The Red Sox have a handful of meaningful free agents who are currently on the open market, but only one of them received the qualifying offer. That would be Craig Kimbrel, who had a chance to sign on for a one-year, $17.9 million deal. He is one of seven players around the league who received this offer, which if rejected allows for the team from whom he is departing to receive compensation. Kimbrel, unsurprisingly, rejected this deal in hopes of finding more guaranteed money (though likely not on an annual basis) on the open market.
Craig Kimbrel rejected his qualifying offer.— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) November 12, 2018
Kimbrel was never going to reject this offer, as he stands to make a hell of a lot more than $17.9 million in free agency this winter. There are obvious flaws with his game that showed at points in 2018 — particularly in the postseason — but overall he is one of the better relievers in the game with a pedigree that will likely land him in the Hall of Fame when all is said and done. We know the game is shifting more and more towards bullpens being a focal point on any roster, and Kimbrel is easily the best reliever available in free agency. Looking around at expert predictions, the consensus seems to be that the closer will get a four-year deal in the $65-75 million range.
Although Kimbrel rebuffed this offer, that does not mean the Red Sox cannot work out another, long-term deal this winter. Whether or not that’s what is best for the team is a different discussion entirely, but the possibility remains. If they decide to go in a different direction and look for cheaper options on the market, Boston would receive compensation when Kimbrel does sign with another team. In the past, the compensation for every team was in the supplemental round after the first round of the draft, but that is no longer the case as the new CBA changed the qualifying rules. I won’t go through the entire set of rules because they are cumbersome, but since the Red Sox were over the luxury tax threshold in 2018 their compensation selection is after the fourth round. A pick is better than no pick, of course, but it is a fairly significant downgrade compared to the value under the previous set of rules.
So, that’s about it. Kimbrel is now officially on the open market, but since everyone was expecting this it was merely procedural. Now, we wait and see just how hard the Red Sox push to bring their closer back, if they push at all.