He may not get that six-year deal his agent said he was initially looking for, but Craig Kimbrel is likely headed back to the Red Sox after finding a surprisingly tepid free agent market for a 30-year-old closer who's 14th on the all-time saves list with 333.
That's the conclusion of veteran baseball writer Richard Justice of MLB.com. In his rundown of potential landing spots for the seven remaining high-profile, free-agent relievers, Justice writes of Kimbrel:
He might not get the six-year deal the Red Sox have resisted giving the 30-year-old right-hander. But he could still match the largest contract ever given a closer, that being the five-year, $86 million deal Aroldis Chapman got from the Yankees two offseasons ago. With the loss of Kelly and the lack of a proven closer being the only real question for the defending champions, Kimbrel's destination seems a foregone conclusion.
Joe Kelly signed a three-year, $25 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, leaving the Sox closer options dwindling, though Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and Alex Cora have expressed faith in setup men Ryan Brasier and Matt Barnes to close. Dombrowski also stated publicly at the winter meetings that the team wasn't planning on "big expenditures on an elite closer."
Still, if Kimbrel's price comes down and a veteran closer is preferred, a Kimbrel reunion could make sense, as NBC Sports Boston Red Sox Insider Evan Drellich reported earlier this winter.
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.