Blue Jays could do one-stop shopping by calling the Cubs
The relief help they desperately need
It’s no secret that the Blue Jays need help in their bullpen if they’re going to be true contenders, and the Cubs just so happen to have a veteran closer who could end up as a borderline Hall of Famer some day.
After struggling through his first two seasons with the Chicago Cubs, Craig Kimbrel is back to his old dominating ways, and he’s been one of the better relievers in baseball in 2021. He’s posted a minuscule 0.57 ERA and 0.66 WHIP across 33 appearances covering 31.2 innings, and he is among league leaders in saves with 20 already.
While I’m more than fine with the Blue Jays having Jordan Romano as their closer, it’s pretty hard to argue against the need for more late-inning help. Acquiring someone with the pedigree of Kimbrel likely puts Romano into more of an 8th inning role, but that lengthens the bullpen in a way that they very much need. It would also be a pretty fantastic opportunity for Romano to learn from one of the best to fill the role in this generation, as Kimbrel has a total of 368 saves over the course of his career.
The tricky part will be figuring out what kind of return is suitable for the 33 year old. There’s no doubt that his first-half performance has been impressive, but some teams could be understandably scared off by his 2019-20 numbers. He’s also making 16 million in 2021, and has a vesting/club option for next season at the same rate. Depending on how you look at it, that extra year could be a big plus or a bit of a handcuff, but the deal also carries a buyout for just one million if things didn’t work out.
Of course, the Blue Jays won’t be the only team looking to upgrade their bullpen, so it’s possible the bidding gets a little higher than Atkins and his team are comfortable with. It’s definitely a situation worth monitoring though, and on paper it’s a move that makes a lot of sense.