Free Agent Closer Craig Kimbrel Reportedly Considering Sitting out 2019 Season

UPDATE: It looks like this report may indeed be untrue, according to the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

Former Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel may be willing to sit out the 2019 season if he does not receive a contract offer close to his ‘perceived value’, reports The Athletic’s Jim Bowden.

Back at the Baseball Winter Meetings this past December, it was reported that Kimbrel was seeking a contract in the six-year and $100 million range, which would be a record-setting deal for a closer.

Touted by his agent David Meter as the ‘best-closer of all-time’, the 30-year-old Kimbrel posted a 2.74 ERA while converting 42 saves in 63 relief appearances and 62.1 innings pitched with Boston in 2018.

According to FanGraphs, Kimbrel has been the second most valuable reliever in the American League since joining Boston prior to the start of the 2016 season.

His case for being one of the more dominant closers of this generation is certainly there, so it’s understandable why the Alabama native and his camp are trying to squeeze the most value out of his next contract as possible. Still, sitting out an entire season would be an extreme measure that does not need to be taken.

Simply put, Kimbrel, who will be turning 31 in May, may just be on a bit of a decline. Compare his numbers over the last two seasons:

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ERA+ was down, FIP was up, WHIP was up, H/9 was up, HR/9 was up, SO/9 was down, and maybe most importantly, BB/9 increased by nearly three from 2017 to 2018. Now, it’s only a small sample size, but this could be a sign of things to come.

A six-year contract for a relief pitcher over the age of 30 was probably never going to happen given the current state of Major League Baseball. If Kimbrel and his camp can accept that, then it would be intriguing to see if Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox could get the flamethrower back on a one-year deal that closely resembles a qualifying offer in the range of $17-$18 million.

That might be a pipe dream at this point, but it is a better option than seeing one of the more electric arms in this game sitting out a year of his prime just to recoup his value for next offseason.

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Former #RedSox LHP Drew Pomeranz Inks One-Year Deal with San Francisco Giants.

The San Francisco Giants have signed LHP Drew Pomeranz to a one-year deal for the 2019 season. The club announced the signing on Twitter Wednesday afternoon.

Pomeranz, 30, will earn a base salary of $1.5 million in 2019 plus up to $3.5 million worth of incentives, reports the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

The left-hander had spent the past two-plus seasons with the Red Sox following a trade with the San Diego Padres for pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza in July of 2016.

In his injury-riddled tenure with Boston, Pomeranz posted a 4.24 ERA and 1.45 WHIP over 316.1 total innings pitched as both a starter and a reliever.

Despite his negative perception among fans, Pomeranz was actually solid in his only full healthy season with the Red Sox in 2017, where he dazzled with a 17-6 record and 3.32 ERA over a span of 32 consecutive starts. With David Price dealing with injury issues himself that year, Pomeranz was essentially the best starting pitcher on the Red Sox’ roster not named Chris Sale.

2018 was a different story for the Tennessee native though, as he dealt with a left forearm flexor strain and left biceps tendinitis and could never really find his rhythm as a starter or out of the bullpen.

Still, Pomeranz made his way to the Red Sox’ World Series roster, and although he never appeared in a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he was available in case he was needed.

Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said in a conference call Wednesday that Pomeranz will be in the team’s starting rotation, meaning he’ll join the likes of fellow southpaws Madison Bumgarner and Derek Holland out in the Bay Area.

As MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo notes, Pomeranz joins Joe Kelly (Dodgers) and Ian Kinsler (Padres) as the only members of the 2018 World Series champion Red Sox to sign elsewhere at the moment. All three have signed deals with National League West clubs.

The Red Sox are scheduled to play the Giants at Fenway Park September 17-19th.

 

#RedSox Avoid Arbitration with All 12 Eligible Players.

The Boston Red Sox have reached settlements with all 12 arbitration eligible players on their 40-man roster, The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier reports.

The 12 players who were eligible for arbitration, along with their brand new salaries for the 2019 season, go as follows:

Matt Barnes: $1.600MM
Mookie Betts: $20.000MM
Xander Bogaerts: $12.000MM
Jackie Bradley Jr.: $8.550MM
Heath Hembree: $1.312MM
Brock Holt: $3.575MM
Sandy Leon: $2.475MM
Eduardo Rodriguez: $4.300MM
Blake Swihart: $0.910MM
Tyler Thornburg: $1.750MM
Brandon Workman: $1.150MM
Steven Wright: $1.375MM

Prior to Friday, deals with Hembree, Thornburg, and Wright had already been settled upon.

Mookie Betts, meanwhile, was on the receiving end of far and away the largest one-year contract ahead of the upcoming season for any arbitration eligible player across baseball, let alone one in their second year of eligibility.

In total, the club spent approximately $55.395 million on these 12 contracts for 2019.

The Red Sox’ official Twitter account confirmed the 10 signings made on Friday just moments ago.

Chicago White Sox and RHP Kelvin Herrera Agree to Two-Year Contract.

The Chicago White Sox have reached an agreement with free agent reliever Kelvin Herrera on a two-year, $18 million contract, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

The deal also includes a vesting option for a potential third year, and per the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, that could take the value of this contract northward of $27 million.

Herrera, 29, opened the 2018 season with the Kansas City Royals, where he posted a miniscule 1.05 ERA over a span of 25 relief appearances before being dealt to the Washington Nationals in June.

There, the right-hander had a much more difficult time of things, as his ERA skyrocketed up to 4.34 over a span of just 21 appearances with the Nats.

Injuries were also an issue for Herrera this past season, as he was placed on the 10-day disabled list on two separate occasions in August.

The first occurrence, an impingement of the right rotator cuff on August 8th, saw the Dominican Republic native shelved for nearly two weeks before being activated on August 21st.

Less than a week after that, Herrera was once again placed on the disabled list due to a tear in the lisfranc ligament of his left foot. That saw his season ultimately come to an early conclusion.

Prior to all this injury-related news going down, the Red Sox were reportedly interested in acquiring the services of the flame throwing Herrera at the non-waiver trade deadline on the last day of July.

President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski told reporters that he had a deal in place for a reliever on that Monday leading up to the deadline, but things fell through because, “[The Nationals] thought they were going to move somebody, and then decided to change their mind. It was a discussion for a reliever. It was one of the few guys we put in that position that we thought would be an upgrade for us.”

With that in mind, it made sense that the Red Sox would be interested in potentially bringing in Herrera as a free agent to stabilize the back-end of their bullpen with the return of Craig Kimbrel still a question mark.

However, the fact that Herrera is coming off a lingering foot injury and still received a hefty chunk of change from the White Sox might mean that the Red Sox were never going to seriously head in this direction.

New York Yankees Agree to Three-Year Deal with LHP Zach Britton.

After losing out on David Robertson to the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday, the New York Yankees have brought back left-handed reliever Zach Britton on a three-year contract, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Britton, 31, was acquired by New York from the Baltimore Orioles last July, and posted a 2.88 ERA and 7.6 K/9 over 25 relief appearances and exactly 25 innings pitched while manning the back-end of the Yankees bullpen.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that Britton’s three-year contract will be worth approximately $40 million, meaning the southpaw will earn about $13 million per season.

Britton’s contract also includes a $14 million team option for a potential fourth year that would need to be activated after the second year, meaning he could earn more than $50 million over the life of his new deal. The Texas native could also opt out if the Yankees fail to pick up that option following the 2020 season.

From the perspective of the Red Sox, this acquisition marks the second time in the past week that intriguing free agent bullpen options have been taken off the board by teams intending to contend in 2019.

It is unclear how hard the club pushed for the services of the oft-injured Britton, but I would like to imagine this increases their chances of retaining Craig Kimbrel at the moment.

Former Colorado Rockie Adam Ottavino remains an option on the relief market as well, but Rosenthal did previously reported Saturday that it’s, “not out of the question [the Yankees] will sign [Britton and Ottavino],” so we’ll have to wait and see if anything picks up on that front.

 

Philadelphia Phillies and RHP David Robertson Agree to Two-Year Deal.

The Philadelphia Phillies have reached an agreement with free agent reliever David Robertson on a two-year, $23 million dollar contract, per the team’s official Twitter account. As the tweet reads, the contract also includes a club option worth approximately $12 million for a potential third year.

Robertson, 33, had spent the past season and a half with the Yankees before signing his deal with Philadelphia on Thursday.

Back in November, it was reported that the right-hander was looking to sign on with a club near his home in Rhode Island, thus the Red Sox were viewed as legitimate suitors for Robertson’s services.

Instead, the University of Alabama alum more than likely chose the team that offered him the most money in the Phillies, while also not straying off too far from the Ocean State.

Known for providing quality work out of the bullpen in a variety of roles throughout his 11-year major league career, Robertson posted a 3.23 ERA and 11.8 K/9 over 69 relief appearances and 69.2 innings pitched with New York in 2018. He also recorded five saves.

With this news, one would have to assume that Philadelphia is out of the running for free agent closer Craig Kimbrel after adding Robertson to the back-end of the bullpen.

Whether or not that increases the chances of a reunion between the Red Sox and the seven-time All-Star remains to be seen, but President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski has essentially kept that door open for the time being. And as we near closer and closer to spring training, Kimbrel’s price is sure to go down.

The Red Sox have also remained interest in free agents Adam Ottavino and Zach Britton. If I were to guess on where each would be going, I would venture to say one signs with Boston, while the other winds up in the Bronx, best case scenario.

#RedSox Reportedly Sign Carson Smith to Minor League Deal.

The Boston Red Sox have brought back RHP Carson Smith on a minor league contract for the 2019 season, per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Smith, 29, originally elected free agency after being outrighted from Boston’s 40-man roster in November, but in a move that may surprise some, the Texas native is back with the organization.

Originally acquired from the Seattle Mariners along with LHP Roenis Elias in exhange for RHP Jonathan Aro and LHP Wade Miley back in December of 2015, Smith’s initial tenure with the Red Sox was riddled with injuries and several stints on the disabled list.

In parts of three different seasons with Boston, the former eighth round pick posted a 2.65 ERA and 10.3 K/9 over just 29 appearances out of the bullpen and 23.2 total innings pitched.

A recipient of Tommy John surgery in 2016, Smith made his first Opening Day Red Sox roster this past season, where he allowed six runs to cross the plate over 14.1 innings of work before his year ultimately came to an end on May 14th.

After serving up an eighth inning solo home run to the Oakland Athletics’ Khris Davis, the right-hander slammed his glove in the Red Sox dugout of frustration upon retiring the side in the frame, which resulted in the subluxation of his throwing shoulder. An injury that would eventually see Smith placed on the 60-day disabled list and miss the remainder of the season.

To make matters worse, Smith essentially threw his manager Alex Cora under the bus following his embarrassing injury, saying that, “I think fatigue played a factor. My shoulder just couldn’t handle it. I think my shoulder is tired in general just from pitching. I’ve thrown a lot lately and I think my arm was just tired.”

That matter did not sit well with Red Sox fans back in the spring, but with the departure of Joe Kelly to the Los Angeles Dodgers and the probable departure of Craig Kimbrel, the Red Sox have made adding pitching depth a priority this winter.

Already in the month of December alone the club has agreed to minor league deals with RHPs Erasmo Ramirez and Zach Putnam to go along with Sunday’s signing of Smith.

It remains to be seen if this latest deal with Smith includes an invite to major league spring training, but I’m going to go ahead and say it will.