MLB Rumors: As Braves Admit Bullpen Will Be Shorthanded Opening Day, Craig Kimbrel May Find A Home In Atlanta

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As of March 17, with this year’s Opening Day just 11 days away, three major free agents remain on the market. One of them, former Boston Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, has attracted no real interest from teams despite his glowing credentials. Kimbrel leads all active relievers in career saves with 333, and according to the Baseball-Reference statistical Hall of Fame monitor, Kimbrel rates at 97 points, or three points short of the score a likely Hall of Famer should receive.

But Kimbrel may have moved a step closer to finding a new home — at one of his old homes — on Sunday. According to a Twitter post from MLB.com‘s Mark Bowman, Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker revealed that two of the relievers he had set to anchor the bullpen for the 2018 National League East champions will not be recovered from injury by the club’s Match 28 opener in Philadelphia against the Braves’ divisional rivals, the Phillies.

One of those Braves relievers, 25-year-old lefty A.J. Minter, saved 15 games for the Braves in 2018, per Baseball-Reference, while striking out 69 in 61 1/3 innings, allowing just three home runs while walking 22.

But Minter continues to experience “tightness” in his pitching shoulder that reportedly resulted from a minor car accident early in spring training, according to Sports Talk Atlanta. Minter is now expected to remain on the injured list — MLB’s new name for what was previously called the “disabled list” — through the opening of the 2019 season at least.

A.J. Minter throws.
A.J. Minter saved 15 games for the Braves last season.Featured image credit: Eric EspadaGetty Images

Minter, however, had reported some progress, at least “playing catch” on the sidelines over the past few days at the Braves’ spring training facility, the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

On the other hand, the Braves have lower expectations for Darren O’Day, the 35-year-old sidearmer who has been sidelined with forearm “discomfort” since March 1, according to SB Nation, after missing much of 2018 with a hamstring injury that required surgery.

The Braves acquired O’Day in a trade deadline deal with the Baltimore Orioles last season, but he failed to make a single appearance for Atlanta due to the hamstring injury, according to MLB.com. But from 2012 to 2015, O’Day recorded a 1.92 ERA over 273 appearances, though his ERA was inflated to 3.56 in games since then. O’Day has not yet thrown a pitch for the Braves during spring training.

Kimbrel was drafted by the Braves in the third round of the 2008 draft. But just two weeks ago, he was said to be in talks with the Washington Nationals, as The Inquisitr reported, and ESPN reporter Keith Law even said that the negotiations were “further down the road” than what had been previously known. But 14 days have gone by and neither the Nationals nor any other team has offered the star closer a new contract.