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.
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.