The 2019 Major league Baseball season is steaming through an eventful first week, but not much has happened for the seven-time All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel, who also happens to be the leader among all active relievers with 333 career saves, per Baseball Reference stats. With the offseason quickly becoming a faint memory, Kimbrel remains an unsigned free agent. But new rumors indicate at least some interest in Kimbrel, including from the New York Mets, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
But will the Mets actually sign Kimbrel? Hopes are not high, as the 2015 National League champs made former Seattle Mariners closer Edwin Diaz their top offseason acquisition, picking the 25-year-old native of Puerto Rico in a blockbuster December trade that involved seven players, as CBS Sports reported.
Diaz recorded an astonishing 57 saves for Seattle in 2018, tying Bobby Thigpen’s 1990 Chicago White Sox season mark, and second in history only to the 62 recorded 2008 by Francisco Rodriguez of the Los Angeles Angels, per BR stats.
Nonetheless, according to a Mets team source who spoke to the New York newspaper Newsday, the New York NL franchise has “checked in” on Kimbrel, as well as on unsigned free agent starter Dallas Keuchel — but only to see if “prices have dropped” on the two pitchers, according to the Newsday Mets source.
As The Inquisitr reported, the Milwaukee Brewers had also been linked to Kimbrel, and when the team announced Friday, per ESPN, that reliever Corey Knebel — who saved 16 for the Brewers last season and 39 in 2017 — would miss all of 2019 due to Tommy John surgery, speculation began anew that the 2018 National League Central winners would make an effort to bring Kimbrel to Milwaukee.
But Milwaukee Journal Sentinel baseball columnist Tom Haudricourt drenched that rumor with cold water on Saturday.
According to Haudricourt, the Brewers can no longer afford Kimbrel, who already declined a $17.9 million qualifying offer from the Boston Red Sox, the team with which he spent the last three seasons, saving 108 games in 119 save opportunities, per BR stats.
“The Brewers don’t have another $18 million in this year’s budget to do a one-year deal with Kimbrel or Keuchel,” Haudricourt wrote.
“They probably don’t have even half that figure at the ready for an addition at this stage.”
The Tampa Bay Rays have also done “due diligence” by approaching Kimbrel, according to Newsday, though as with the Mets, there appears to be no current indication that Tampa Bay — who won a surprising 90 games in 2018 after winning no more than 80 in any season since 2013, per BR — was planning to make an offer for Kimbrel.