The Red Sox bullpen has been a disappointment in 2015, and there are no guaranteed long-term fixes sitting either in the majors or the minors at the moment. Koji Uehara is a free agent after 2016 and will also be 41 next season, and Junichi Tazawa only has one year left on his deal as well. All of that has apparently added up to Boston having interest in trading for Padres' closer Craig Kimbrel, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.
Kimbrel is under contract for 2016 and 2017, at a total cost of $24 million. He also has an option for 2018, that comes in at just $13 million with a $1 million buyout. A long-term deal for a reliever is an obvious risk, but the cost here is low enough that, when combined with his performance, makes Kimbrel a no-brainer add if you can do so. He has a 1.59 career ERA over 329 innings, and has struck out well over 14 batters per nine in that time. Even as his strikeout rate has declined as he's moved into his late-20s, Kimbrel has still managed to punch out over 13 batters per nine over the last three years.
The right-hander will cost the Red Sox in prospects, but given Kimbrel's talent and their needs, that's certainly acceptable. It's even better if Boston could also pull starting pitcher Tyson Ross, who they are discussing with the Padres as well, out of San Diego. Maybe this is just a side benefit, and not a primary one, but a Red Sox acquisition of Kimbrel also means the Yankees don't get him.
It all depends on what the price is, of course: Padres' general manager A.J. Preller could have ridiculous demands for Kimbrel -- as he should, given it's Craig Kimbrel -- that keep the Red Sox from doing more than just asking on him. Then again, he's a creative guy, so maybe there is potential for a massive trade here where more than just prospects and Kimbrel are swapped, with longer contracts and money also changing hands. Not to get your hopes up or anything, but the Padres did want Pablo Sandoval before the Red Sox signed him, and they're still without a third baseman even as productive as the version of Panda Sox fans are fed up with. If enough Padres money moves to Boston, and enough Red Sox money moves to San Diego... you can see it, can't you?
Anything like that would result in the Sox having to pay extra prospects to move him, of course, as they had to move Adrian Gonzalez and his fantastic contract to get Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett off the roster in 2012. All the above makes anything like this highly unlikely But hey, you've got some time to kill before 4 pm. Why not dream a little?
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Update 12:15 pm: Interest in Craig Kimbrel might reportedly lead to a three-team deal between the Red Sox, Padres, and Cubs, according to ESPN's Buster Olney. We've broken down what that might mean for Boston here.