After failing to receive a contract offer suitable to his liking for the first two months of the season, closer Craig Kimbrel has finally found a new home.
Craig Kimbrel’s deal with the Chicago Cubs is for three years and $43 million and includes a fourth-year option, sources tell ESPN. He’ll receive $10 million this season and $16 million in 2020 and 2021. There is a $1 million buyout on a club/vesting option for the fourth year.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 6, 2019
The 31-year-old pitcher’s list of accomplishments makes you wonder why it took so long for him to be signed.
His career earned run average stands at 1.91, and no reliever who has pitched 300 or more innings has a lower career ERA.
Kimbrel was also the youngest pitcher ever to record 300 saves. He currently has 333 of them.
“In addition, his rate of 14.7 strikeouts per nine innings is the best among major league pitchers with at least 500 career innings,” according to ESPN.
But as an expensive free agent, there was always compensation attached to Kimbrel’s name if he was signed before this week’s MLB draft, The Associated Press reported.
Starting Monday, the draft-pick compensation attached to Kimbrel’s signing expired.
If a team had signed him prior to Monday, that club would have been penalized with the loss of at least one 2019 pick.
Sources told ESPN that Kimbrel will report to Cubs facilities on Thursday to take his physical.
He is expected to be ready to pitch within the next two weeks.
Cubs starter Jon Lester compared the signing of Kimbrel to a Christmas present that you can’t open for a while.
“It’s like getting a gift on Christmas morning and having to wait to open it for a week or so before he’s here,” Lester said, per ESPN.
Kimbrel is expected to close for the Cubs, and they can certainly use the help.
As a team, the Cubs have converted just 12 of their 25 save opportunities, a success rate of 52 percent.
Chicago manager Joe Maddon is no doubt thrilled to have another toy in his bullpen as the Cubs attempt to hold onto their one-game lead in the NL Central.
“Anybody would be excited to get a guy of his ilk in their bullpen,” Maddon told reporters Wednesday, prior to his team signing Kimbrel, The Washington Post reported.
“When you’re able to lengthen the bullpen, with the really quality guys at the end, you can shorten the game. There’s no question you can shorten the game,” he added.
“That’s the kind of stuff that can get you on a roll, when you don’t give up leads and you can shut things down.”
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