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.
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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Chris Sale turned 31 on Monday. He also had Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow on that same day. The procedure will sideline him for at least the rest of the 2020 season and beyond.
But when exactly can we expect Sale back? Boston Red Sox chief of baseball operations, Chaim Bloom, wouldn't confirm to an exact date, but he did provide some insight into how long Sale might be sidelined.
"We don't know exactly," Bloom said, per Christopher Smith of MassLive.com. "Typically you see around that 14-15 month range."
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Okay, so maybe that's not the most specific answer, but it at least gives us a ballpark idea of when Sale could return.
A 14-15 month recovery period would have Sale return sometime between early June and early July in 2021, if his recovery goes well. Of course, there are so many variables to take into account about how Sale may be progressing but also about how the Sox may be faring. If they aren't doing well, the team could take an extremely cautious approach with Sale in hopes of having him fully healthy for the 2022 season.
But Bloom's estimate at least gives Sox fans an initial target for Sale's potential return. The target date will certainly be fluid especially considering that some pitchers take 18 months to return from the surgery.
But no matter what, Sale won't be suiting up for the Red Sox until mid-2021 at the earliest. And that's bad news for the squad considering their lack of starting pitching depth.
Chris Sale's long road to recovery from a pesky elbow injury began on Monday.
The Boston Red Sox officially announced that Sale underwent Tommy John surgery on Monday to reconstruct the UCL in his throwing arm. Noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache performed the surgery.
The Red Sox and Sale decided that he would need to have the surgery about a week and a half ago. The coronavirus crisis made it a bit uncertain as to when Sale would be able to have the procedure done, but now, it is in the books.
Sale won't pitch at all in 2020 and it's likely that he will miss time in 2021 as well. In fact, he could miss that whole season given that a typical recovery from Tommy John surgery takes about 18 months.
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Either way, the Red Sox will be without Sale long-term and as a result, their starting rotation looks very thin. Eduardo Rodgriguez will slot in as the team's ace while Nathan Eovaldi and Martin Perez are the Nos. 2 and 3 starters respectively.
The other two rotation spots are up for grabs but before the league was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was assumed that Ryan Weber had the inside track for the fourth starter position. The fifth starter role was much less settled and the team may have used an opener strategy given their lack of starting pitching depth.
Without Sale, the Red Sox will likely have to rely a lot on their offense to carry them to victory moving forward. But we won't get a chance to see how they look until the MLB returns. And at this point in time, it's unclear when that may be.