Free agent reliever Craig Kimbrel, the career leader in saves among active pitchers with 333, per Baseball Reference, remains unsigned with less than a week to go before Opening Day of 2019 Major League Baseball season. But though Kimbrel has been linked to several clubs, nothing has materialized for the 30-year-old righty. As of Saturday, however, a new team has emerged as a possible landing place for Kimbrel, a team whose previously solid bullpen has now been badly dented by injuries.
Kimbrel was most recently linked, as Inquisitr reported, to the Atlanta Braves — the team that drafted him in the third round back in 2008. Relievers Brian Minter and Darren O’Day are both recovering from injury and are not expected to be available to start the season for Atlanta, possibly creating a need for Kimbrel.
But so far, nothing has come of the Braves’ alleged interest, nor did anything materialize with the Washington Nationals, who earlier this month were claimed by one ESPN reporter to be “further down the road” in talks with Kimbrel than had been publicly reported, according to The Inquisitr. But whatever the reality of those talks actually was, Kimbrel remains a free agent without a team three weeks later.
On Saturday, according to a Yahoo! Sports report, another team, the 2018 National League Central-winning Milwaukee Brewers, emerged as a potential landing spot for Kimbrel, thanks to injuries suffered by two key relievers, Jeremey Jeffress and Corey Knebel.
“Milwaukee has taken an interest in Kimbrel after learning that incumbent closer Corey Knebel has a damaged UCL,” reported R.J. Anderson of CBS Sports.
Knebel saved 16 games in 19 opportunities for Milwaukee last year, per BR, as the club made it all the way to Game 7 of the National League Championship series before losing to the eventual NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers.
Another Milwaukee reliever, Jeremy Jeffress — who saved 15 games in 20 chances — is also now out indefinitely with a shoulder injury, per BR.
According to one rumor, attributed to NFL Insider Leroy on his Twitter feed, the Brewers have offered Kimbrel a five-year contract at a total of $75 million.
If the rumor is accurate, that offer would be a downgrade from the contract Kimbrel was hoping to receive in free agency, which according to Athletic reporter Jayson Stark, on his Twitter account, would have run six years for a total “north” of $100 million.
According to the Athletic correspondent who regularly covers the Braves, David O’Brien, Atlanta remained “in on Kimbrel,” with the Brewers the only competition for the seven-time All-Star closer “barring a late entry.”