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Sox pick up Craig Kimbrel's 2022 option, face new decision

/ by Vinnie Duber
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
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The Chicago White Sox have picked up Craig Kimbrel's option for the 2022 season, one decision setting up another as the offseason gets going.

Kimbrel was acquired in a trade-deadline deal with the Crosstown-rival Chicago Cubs, and the future Hall of Famer struggled mightily after arriving on the South Side. One of the game's all-time great closers, his transition to a setup role in front of All-Star ninth-inning man Liam Hendriks was a bumpy one, and he gave up at least a run in nine of his 24 appearances in a White Sox uniform during the regular season, plus another in the postseason.

All told, he followed up a 0.49 ERA with the Cubs with a 5.09 mark with the White Sox.

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Part of the reason Kimbrel was acquired — and part of what made parting with second baseman of the future Nick Madrigal in the trade a little easier to swallow — was his $16 million option for the 2022 season. But the lack of success meant the White Sox moving on from Kimbrel would not come as a surprise.

So far, though, they haven't, and there's an argument to be made that a full offseason to get acclimated to a new team and a new role could allow Kimbrel to pitch more like himself next season. With plenty of other departures from the bullpen — Ryan Tepera and Evan Marshall are free agents, and Michael Kopech is set to move to the rotation, with Garrett Crochet perhaps also beginning to prepare for a starter's role — keeping one of the game's elite relief arms around wouldn't be the worst idea.

 

But though one decision has been made, to pick up the option, another now faces Rick Hahn's front office. And in one potential outcome, outlined earlier this fall by USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the White Sox could choose to find a trade partner, a team that could be looking for a closer, and attempt to improve other areas of the roster.

We'll see how that all plays out. Right now, though, Kimbrel remains on the White Sox roster and, until proven otherwise, part of the bullpen picture for 2022.

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