Craig Kimbrel

MLB rumors: Craig Kimbrel moving 'closer' to free-agent decision

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USA TODAY Sports

MLB rumors: Craig Kimbrel moving 'closer' to free-agent decision

Craig Kimbrel could be on a Major League Baseball mound sooner rather than later.

The veteran closer has been unsigned on the MLB free-agent market much longer than anyone anticipated, but MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported Tuesday that Kimbrel is getting "closer" to a decision.

It was reported over the weekend that Kimbrel views Wade Davis' (three years, $52 million) and Zack Britton's (three years, $39 million) recent contracts as a fair range for his next deal.

Kimbrel is one of the best closers of his generation and tallied 108 saves over the last three seasons for the Boston Red Sox. He posted 42 saves with a 2.74 ERA, 96 strikeouts and 31 walks over 62 1/3 innings in 2018. He struggled in the postseason but did play a part in the Red Sox winning the World Series last October.

Contending teams would be wise to pursue Kimbrel. He's still a very good pitcher and would bring a wealth of postseason experience to any bullpen. Kimbrel also figures to be highly motivated to prove teams that passed on him in free agency wrong.

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MLB Rumors: Here are Craig Kimbrel's latest contract demands

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MLB Rumors: Here are Craig Kimbrel's latest contract demands

The 2019 MLB season is in full swing, and Craig Kimbrel still doesn't have a team.

It's bizarre seeing one of the best closers of all time still on the market, especially when you consider the number of teams in need of bullpen help. But according to Jim Bowden of The Athletic, Kimbrel's asking price remains far too high. As recently as late March, the 2018 World Series Champion has asked for a five-year deal worth approximately $100 million.

Bowden writes:

"When the market didn’t develop for Kimbrel like [Kimbrel's agent David Meter] thought it would, he stuck to his guns and, even as late as March, was still seeking a five-year pact in the $100 million range.  It was a clear miscalculation of Kimbrel’s true market value, and not consistent with the actual offers or ranges teams had given him."

Kimbrel was linked to Milwaukee as a potential destination at the beginning of the season, but those talks seem to have cooled down. The Brewers could use a presence in the back of their 'pen alongside Josh Hader with Corey Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress both injured. Of course, if those reported contract demands are accurate, it's easy to see why they'd go in a different direction.

Saturday evening, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported figures for Kimbrel that are different than Bowden's, and they're far more reasonable:

Kimbrel posted a 2.74 ERA with a 0.99 WHIP, 96 strikeouts and 31 walks over 62 1/3 innings for the Red Sox last year. Once he brings his price down a notch, there's no reason he shouldn't be able to find a home.

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Craig Kimbrel could be at Red Sox's home opener ... for ring ceremony

Craig Kimbrel could be at Red Sox's home opener ... for ring ceremony

Turns out Craig Kimbrel may not have made his last appearance at Fenway Park.

The Boston Red Sox have formally invited their former closer to attend their 2018 World Series ring ceremony prior to next Tuesday's home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays, team president Sam Kennedy confirmed in an email to MassLive.com.

"I actually spoke with him yesterday to formally invite him," Kennedy said. “He is going to let us know if he can make it."

It's common practice for teams to invite players who departed in the offseason to their ring ceremonies. Kennedy said he also invited Hanley Ramirez (now with the Cleveland Indians), Joe Kelly (Los Angeles Dodgers), Drew Pomeranz (San Francisco Giants) and Ian Kinsler (San Diego Padres).

All of those players have games Tuesday, though, so it's highly unlikely they show up.

But Kimbrel's schedule is open, as the seven-time All-Star still is a free agent nearly a week into the regular season. The Red Sox seem content with a closer-by-committee approach in 2019, so don't expect Boston to scoop him up.

If the 30-year-old accepts the invitation, though, Red Sox fans will have one last chance to show some love to the man who notched 108 saves over three years in Boston.

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