Craig Kimbrel
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Craig Kimbrel hasn’t lowered his asking price

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Free agent reliever Craig Kimbrel isn’t in any hurry to lower his asking price, reports Jim Bowden of The Athletic. Kimbrel parted ways with the Red Sox last November after declining a one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer, but has yet to find a team willing to meet his alleged six-year, $100+ million asking price.

Still, the clock is ticking down to Opening Day, and sooner or later someone is going to have to budge. Bowden doesn’t think that someone will be Kimbrel, however, and cites unnamed sources close to the reliever who believe he might even skip out on the 2019 season if he doesn’t receive an offer that approaches his “perceived value.”

Even if he decides to compromise on less lofty terms this spring, it’s not exactly clear which teams remain in the running for the 30-year-old’s services. The Red Sox have been all but ruled out at this point, and despite the perceived interest of the Braves, Twins, Nationals, and Phillies, no one has been linked to the Kimbrel in nearly a month. To be sure, the seven-time All-Star carries an undeniable track record and talent — most recently, with 42 saves and a 2.74 ERA, 4.5 BB/9, 13.9 SO/9, and 1.5 fWAR across 62 1/3 innings in 2018 — but given the nature of today’s free agent market, may be left hanging if he truly intends to hold out for a record-breaking deal.

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Update, 5:32 PM EST: Kimbrel’s agent, David Meter, told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic that reports of the closer sitting out for the season were “wholly inaccurate” and added that “Craig looks forward to signing a new contract in the near future.” No specific teams — or contract terms — were indicated in the statement.

Red Sox employees “livid” over team pay cut plan

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Even Drellich of The Athletic reports that the Boston Red Sox are cutting the pay of team employees. Those cuts, which began to be communicated last night, apply to all employees making $50,000 or more. They are tiered cuts, with people making $50-99,000 seeing salary cut by 20%, those making $100k-$499,000 seeing $25% cuts and those making $500,000 or more getting 30% cuts.

Drellich reported that a Red Sox employee told him that “people are livid” over the fact that those making $100K are being treated the same way as those making $500K. And, yes, that does seem to be a pretty wide spread for similar pay cuts. One would think that a team with as many analytically-oriented people on staff could perhaps break things down a bit more granularly.

Notable in all of this that the same folks who own the Red Sox — Fenway Sports Group — own Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, and that just last month Liverpool’s pay cut/employee furlough policies proved so unpopular that they led to a backlash and a subsequent reversal by the club. That came after intense criticism from Liverpool fan groups and local politicians. Sox owner John Henry must be confident that no such backlash will happen in Boston.

As we noted yesterday, The Kansas City Royals, who are not as financially successful as the Boston Red Sox, have not furloughed employees or cut pay as a result of baseball’s shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps someone in Boston could call the Royals and ask them how they managed that.