While it doesn’t come as a shock, we now know with certainty that the Philadelphia Phillies have expressed interest in the top reliever available on the market, Craig Kimbrel of the Chicago Cubs.
Appearing on BetQL Daily with Joe Ostrowski and Joe Giglio, Jon Heyman of Audacy Sports said that the Phillies are “looking at” Kimbrel. Heyman also added that the Toronto Blue Jays as a team with interest in the eight-time All-Star.
Now 33, Kimbrel has rebounded from a disappointing 2020 season to turn in his best campaign in years. In 38 games this season, Kimbrel has 23 saves, a 0.50 ERA, 1.11 FIP and 2.0 fWAR. The veteran righty — who began his career with the National League East rival Atlanta Braves — has re-emerged as one of the top closers in baseball.
Kimbrel is a particularly attractive trade piece because he has a $16 million club option for 2022, one that any team acquiring Kimbrel will almost certainly end up exercising, rather than buying him out for $1 million.
That said, because Kimbrel won’t be viewed by most acquiring clubs as a rental, the Cubs will likely expect a larger return for him than some of their rental trade pieces, like Kris Bryant.
Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski previously acquired Kimbrel from the San Diego Padres when he was leading the Red Sox front office, but it’s fair to wonder if he’ll have enough ammo to complete a similar deal in Philadelphia. Dombrowski has repeatedly expressed that the Phillies would prefer to hold onto Mick Abel, their No. 1 overall prospect. Beyond him, shortstop Bryson Stott has some value, but it’s hard to see too many players in the Phillies system that you could build a package around.
All that said, the Phillies are a veteran team that while flawed, is built to win now. At 49-49, the Phillies are just four games back of the New York Mets in the National League East. Philadelphia hasn’t reached the postseason since 2011, and Kimbrel would address their biggest weakness, both in 2021 and 2022.
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