When the Boston Red Sox didn't re-sign Craig Kimbrel following the 2018 season, there was an expected silver lining: They'd gain a compensatory pick in the 2019 MLB Draft if the All-Star closer signed elsewhere.
That silver lining is now gone.
Under the league's current collective bargaining agreement, compensation picks tied to free agents who decline their qualifying offers are eliminated on the first day of the MLB Draft if those players still haven't signed.
Kimbrel, who turned down Boston's $17.9 million qualifying offer in November, was unsigned as of 12:01 a.m. ET on Monday, June 3, meaning teams now can sign he and free-agent pitcher Dallas Keuchel without having to give a compensatory pick to the Red Sox and Houston Astros, respectively.
That also means the previously slow market for both All-Stars should pick up significantly. The Chicago Cubs reportedly have increased interest in Kimbrel, while MLB Network's Jon Heyman also lists the Minnesota Twins, Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays as potential suitors.
The draft pick attachment goes away first minute Monday, at 12:01 am. So look for Keuchel/Kimbrel to sign after that, maybe not too long after. Hear Yankees/Braves strongly in on DK; Twins, Brewers, Cards, Rays among others. CK market also active. ATL, PHI, MINN, TB, many more.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) May 31, 2019
Kimbrel tallied 42 saves for Boston last season while earning his seventh All-Star nod, but his shaky 2018 postseason and a reportedly lofty asking price have given teams some pause.
Now that cash is the only obstacle to landing Kimbrel, however, expect the 31-year-old to get swooped up by a deep-pocketed contender in short order.
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