Who will sign Craig Kimbrel and his World Series-winning beard?
With so many impact players available, this year's free-agent season has the potential to be the most hectic we've ever seen. To keep everything organized, we're bringing back the Free Agent Matrix to parse out where this year's top talents might end up signing.
In an age where reliever usage continues to be revolutionized and the concept of a Proven Closer is becoming murkier by the month,
Kimbrel's career ERA (1.91) is the lowest among all relievers in Major League history, a good margin better than
Now, fresh off a World Series title and his eighth consecutive season of 30+ saves, Kimbrel enters free agency as the premier game-ender on the market. Two Hot Stoves ago, we saw three of Kimbrel's closer counterparts hit the free agent market and each sign significant contracts:
How will Kimbrel's deal stack up? Here's what the market looks like for the electric right-hander:
The Dark Horses
With new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen at the helm, it remains a bit cloudy which direction the team is heading in 2019. But if Van Wagenen is eager to improve his squad in one big splash, adding Kimbrel would make a lot of sense. After the Mets traded
As exceptionally fun as it would be to just toss the closer keys to 22-year-old flamethrower
Ever since the days of Troy Percival and K-Rod, the Angels have struggled to find a shutdown closer of Kimbrel's caliber and consistency. Just as Jansen has his signature L.A. closer entrance music with 2Pac's "California Love" at Dodger Stadium, Kimbrel could establish a similarly electric entrance down the freeway in Anaheim. He may also share many baseball fans' passion for wanting to see
It was a whole lot of
Atlanta shocked a lot of people by vaulting all the way to the top of the NL East in 2018, and with a loaded farm system and a stellar big league roster, the Braves appear ready to stay there for the foreseeable future. Of course, the legend of Kimbrel began with the Braves, the team that developed him from third-round pick to Cooperstown-bound reliever in a blink of the eye. He led the National League in saves in each of his four full seasons in Atlanta. It feels like Kimbrel has been gone way longer than he actually has been (four years), but a return to the ATL to help the team that raised him return to October glory would be supremely cool to watch.
Sure, there was a little bit of drama in October where Kimbrel made Sox fans sweat it out more than they'd like, but he got his stuff back by the end of the month for the eventual World Series champions. Were his struggles in the postseason a sign that maybe you can have too much of a good thing and it may be time for Boston to move on? Or was that just a blip and the two sides should forget their recent bumps in the road and commit to each other for the long haul? Every relationship reaches that critical fork in the road.
The Cubs spent a chunk of change last offseason to add