The Blue Jays had their share of bullpen issues in 2021 and are looking for reinforcements this offseason, so should Craig Kimbrel be on their wish list?
After a roller coaster 2021 season for the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen, stabilizing the pen is certainly on the offseason checklist for General Manager Ross Atkins. There are plenty of high end relief options on the free agent market including Raisel Iglesias and Kenley Jansen, but it sounds like one of the best closers of all time could be available via trade.
The Chicago White Sox swung for the fences at the 2021 Trade Deadline, making a bold move for closer Craig Kimbrel with All-Star closer Liam Hendriks already in the fold.
Kimbrel was primarily used in an 8th inning setup role on the South side of Chicago ahead of Hendriks and the results were noticeably worse than his performance in the 9th inning for the Chicago Cubs before the trade.
Despite giving up a couple of solid assets in the deal for the right-hander, it sounds like White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn may be open to moving Kimbrel on the trade market.
Should the Blue Jays be interested in Kimbrel and his $16 million salary with Jordan Romano coming off of an incredible season, which saw him pick up 23 saves in 24 opportunities? Romano’s ability to pitch in any leverage situation regardless of the inning makes the idea of a Kimbrel trade more logical, depending on what Chicago might be looking for in return.
If the cost isn’t too prohibitive, the idea of a bullpen constructed around Tim Mayza, Adam Cimber, Trevor Richards, Jordan Romano and Craig Kimbrel with potentially other pieces to be added during the offseason sounds very appealing.
One of the bigger issues for the 2021 Blue Jays bullpen was a lack of consistent strikeouts from relievers beyond Jordan Romano as the likes of Cimber, Richards and to an extent Mayza weren’t racking up gaudy strikeout numbers.
Even in an up and down season in 2021, Craig Kimbrel still punched out 100 batters in 59.2 innings and has a lifetime 14.7 strikeouts per 9.0 innings pitched. It may not seem like the most obvious move to make with a strong closer like Jordan Romano already in the fold, but with their need for this type of pitcher in the back end of the bullpen to pitch in high leverage, the Blue Jays absolutely should be making calls to the White Sox to see what it might take to get Craig Kimbrel.