How Craig Kimbrel has done with the Cubs
When the market for Kimbrel heated up, the status of the Twins’ bullpen was in full-blown crisis mode. After getting by with their bargain level relievers for the first two months of the year, the carriage was starting to turn into a pumpkin and opposing hitters were beginning to tee off.
The Twins were reportedly aggressive in acquiring Kimbrel’s services, and with the 31-year old’s track record as a seven-time All-Star, adding him to the back end of the bullpen appeared to be a no-brainer. However, this wasn’t meant to be as Kimbrel opted to sign a three-year, $45 million deal with the Chicago Cubs.
The added allure of playing for one of baseball’s most popular franchises may also have had an impact and in the short term, Minnesota was left scrambling for help and would eventually designate four relievers for assignment in the course of one week in July.
While the instant analysis was condemning, Kimbrel has not been a shutdown closer for the Cubs since arriving in Chicago. Kimbrel’s stat line in 16 appearances for the Cubs includes a 5.68 ERA and six home runs allowed in 19 innings.
To add icing on the cake, Kimbrel has been dealing with elbow issues, which may be a culprit for a career-low 2.36:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. With multiple stints on the injured list, it’s possible that Theo Epstein is questioning the decision to give Kimbrel a three-year commitment and might not get a full return on that investment if the elbow problems lead to something more serious.