Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski announced on Monday that Craig Kimbrel has officially rejected his qualifying offer, making him a free agent.
This news may not come as a surprise to some, but it does leave the World Series champions without a closer, for now.
If Kimbrel does choose to sign elsewhere this winter, such as with the Atlanta Braves or Philadelphia Phillies, that particular club will owe Boston a compensatory pick in next year’s draft, which is set to land somewhere after the fourth round.
The Red Sox extended the QO with a value of $17.9 million to Kimbrel on November 2nd, giving the seven-time All-Star 10 days to either accept or reject.
With this rejection, Kimbrel will more than likely become one of the highest paid relievers in all of baseball, joining the likes of Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen and Yankees ninth-inning man Aroldis Chapman, whose current deals have a combined worth of $166 million over 10 total years, per Spotrac.
Over the course of the GM meetings in Carlsbad, Calif. this past week, Kimbrel’s agent, David Meter, pitched his client as, “the best closer of all-time,” so you can expect the Alabama native to seek out a hefty pay-day in the coming weeks.
Given the very real possibility the Red Sox decide to not commit that much to their closer for the past three seasons, we could be looking at Matt Barnes, or even Ryan Brasier as ninth inning options in 2019.
Dombrowski made clear on Nov. 1st that if Kimbrel were to leave, “We do think that we do have a situation where internally we have a couple of candidates to do that – Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier are the top candidates.”
That remains to be seen, as there is still a slight possibility that the Red Sox retain the services of Kimbrel to remain their closer. But, given the way relief pitching appears to be trending, it would not be surprising if Dombrowski and/or Alex Cora would prefer a closer who could come on and pitch multiple innings in order to lock up wins.
In his three-year tenure with Boston, the 30-year-old Kimbrel seemed to struggle with this task regularly, as well as securing saves in tight, late-game situations at times.
If this is it for Kimbrel in a Red Sox uniform, it was certainly a memorable run. Three seasons, three All-Star team selections, an elite 2017, and a World Series championship in 2018.