The GM meetings are happening in California this week and the hot stove is heating up with multiple teams being connected to various players. The Philadelphia Phillies are one of those teams, who are rumored to be interested in many players as they are expected to make a big splash in free agency.
Earlier in the week, it was reported that Philadelphia would be interested in acquiring starting pitching, but you can now include the bullpen to their offseason watch list as well.
Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com reported on Wednesday that Philly is in on free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel. Outside of the Phillies, the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals are also keeping tabs on the veteran reliever.
It is somewhat surprising to see the Phillies getting involved in the Kimbrel sweepstakes, especially with how terrible he looked in the postseason.
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In the regular season, Kimbrel had 42 saves to go with a record of 5-1 with an ERA of 2.37. He also racked up 96 strikeouts in 62.1 innings pitched, despite giving up a career-high seven home runs.
However, in the postseason, the 30-year-old closer became a totally different pitcher. He could not get the ball over the plate sometimes for strikes and made non-high leverage situations very intense.
In the ALDS against the New York, Kimbrel had an outrageous 11.57 ERA in 2.1 innings pitched and gave up three earned runs, two walks, and a home run.
However, in the ALCS against Houston, Kimbrel’s ERA slightly dropped to 4.50, but he still struggled to get outs in certain situations.
Then in the World Series, Kimbrel’s ERA dropped again this time to 4.15. Red Sox manager Alex Cora showed continuously throughout the postseason that he would rather have Nathan Eovaldi, David Price or Chris Sale on the mound in high-pressure moments.
Therefore, if I was Phillies general manager Matt Klentak, I would not get into an extensive bidding war for Kimbrel. Even though he has a career 1.91 ERA, Kimbrel is not the same dominating pitcher that he was earlier in his career with the Braves.
Along those same lines, the last time the Phillies spent big bucks for a Boston Red Sox closer (Jonathan Papelbon) it did not go exactly well. He was a loose cannon if we are being completely honest.
On paper, Kimbrel would be a considerable upgrade for a Phillies bullpen, which allowed 4.49 runs per game (11th in the National League) and had 20 blown saves (7th in the National League).
If the Phillies opt to sign him, they would have Kimbrel as their closer and could use both Seranthony Dominguez and Pat Neshek as setup guys. A 1-2-3 combination of Kimbrel, Dominguez, and Neshek would be a diabolical strike machine next season.
But with that being said, the Phillies have their eyes on other players and positions of need where they will spend big bucks. It is hard to imagine them cashing out on a closer, who could possibly command at least a five-year, $82.5 million deal, according to Spotrac.com.