clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Craig Kimbrel could consider sitting out the 2019 season, per report

His agent denies the report

MLB: ALCS-Boston Red Sox at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

In case you haven’t heard, the Red Sox took the conservative approach with their bullpen this winter, seeing Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly hit free agency and bringing in only Colten Brewer as the lone newcomer to the 40-man roster. They do have some young arms with potential that could come up and help this season to be sure, but it is still a risk maneuver for a team with legitimate aspirations to repeat as world champions. If you accept that the Red Sox aren’t going to go over the highest luxury tax threshold year after year whether you like it or not, then there is merit to the idea of saving money this year with so many players poised to see a salary increase in the next two years. That said, it’s hard to look at this roster and feel the bullpen matches the rest of the team.

At the start of the offseason there were plenty of intriguing relievers available on all ends of the contract spectrum, but one by one the pickings got slim. Now, if the Red Sox are still to do something this late in the game, it will be to bring back Kimbrel. Yes, despite being one of the handful of best relievers to ever play the game, the righty is still available in free agency. In fact, there hasn’t even really been any reports of teams showing a lot of interest. Now, Jim Bowden is reporting the closer has not brought down his asking price and he is seriously considering sitting out the 2019 season if teams don’t up their offers.

UPDATE

While I was writing this Kimbrel’s agent denied Bowden’s report. From Ken Rosenthal:

The Red Sox have said time and time again all winter long that they will not be making big expenditures in the bullpen. In other words, at least publicly they are committed to moving on from Kimbrel. Still, as long as he’s out there the speculation that they could still be interested at the right price will remain. As for this play from the future Hall of Famer, well, I don’t buy it. At least not the part about him possibly sitting out the 2019 season. That seems like a pretty obvious play from his side to show teams with whom he’s negotiating that he means business. He’s hoping this will cause someone to blink and up their offer. Whether or not that’s a good tactic is debatable, but I can’t imagine he’s seriously considering sitting out this coming year. If he does, I can’t see any way that would help him moving forward.

As for him not lowering his demands, that also seems like a miscalculation. Look, I also think that Kimbrel is being woefully underrated this winter by teams, analysts and fans alike, largely due to an admittedly atrocious run through the postseason. Still, if he is truly still looking for a record-breaking contract it just appears to be a case of misreading the market. Granted, that’s not to say he doesn’t deserve it based on his track record and those the free agents that came before him, but the market as clearly changed. Fair or not, he’s going to have to lower his expectations if he wants any deal at all. Of course, Kimbrel has professional agents handling all of this for him, and I’m clearly not smarter than them. They know all of this already. Which brings me back to my main point: This is all just negotiating through the media because the market is inexplicably slow.

UPDATE

While I was writing this Kimbrel’s agent denied Bowden’s report. From Ken Rosenthal: