By: Alex Patt
There has not been a lot of encouraging news this spring when it comes to the bullpen arms. Pedro Strop’s recent hamstring issue, while seemingly minor, was just another addition to the list of concerns. This also includes Brad Brach’s physical issues with mono, Xavier Cedeno’s wrist issues, Mike Montgomery’s shoulder issues and of course Brandon Morrow not being able to pitch on Opening Day.
Right now the notable healthy guys (knock on wood) are Steve Cishek, Carl Edwards, Brian Duensing, Randy Rosario and Tyler Chatwood. The only name on this list with real closer experience is Cishek who has been a full-time closer in the past. Long story short there are a lot of concerns to be had regarding the bullpen in 2019.
WSCR’s Bruce Levine reported that the Cubs are looking for possible reinforcements via waiver wire. This likely would not include any big names even though there is a big name still on the market…Craig Kimbrel.
Yes, Craig Kimbrel is still a free agent waiting for a team to sign him. It does not sound like they have fully ruled him out, but it does not look like they are active with him either. At this point the Cubs should probably buckle down and go after him.
Kimbrel (30) has been arguably the most consistently good closer this decade. Since his MLB debut in 2010 with Atlanta, Kimbrel has a career 333 saves with a 1.91 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 868 strikeouts in 542 games. He is a seven-time All Star and won the World Series with Boston last year.
He wants a lot of years and a lot of money, but with this holdout he could come cheaper than originally anticipated. Even if it is on a one-year “prove it” deal, getting an elite closer like Kimbrel would help this bullpen out tremendously. Yes, Theo Epstein has had a reputation of building bullpens with a lot of waiver claims and lesser-known names, however he has also acquired the likes of Wade Davis and Aroldis Chapman as well.
If the Cubs are in bullpen trouble mid-season, they may have to trade more young assets for arms. Here is a guy just waiting without a team…right in front of them. Seems more logical to spend some money rather give up more player talent for help.
If they really want a World Series chance, they need to make sure that bullpen is good.