Free agent closer Craig Kimbrel may be willing to budge on his asking price after all, according to a report from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal on Saturday. Rosenthal revealed that Kimbrel is still seeking “a deal he believes to be fair,” one that might fall somewhere between the three-year, $39 million deal Zack Britton took with the Yankees this winter and the three-year, $52 million contract Wade Davis signed with the Rockies back in 2017.
Those figures are noted departures from the five-year, $100 million agreement Kimbrel and his agent, Dave Meter, were reportedly pursuing last month. They’ve supposedly received several legitimate offers from teams over the last few months, but nothing that appears to approach what Kimbrel might consider to be fair. And even if Kimbrel and Meter are willing to make this big of a concession, it’s not as if teams are lining up to sign the closer these days — no matter how much they might need him to bolster the back end of their bullpen.
As we’ve said here before, it would be a shame to see the 2019 season pass Kimbrel by. The former Red Sox hurler is a remarkable talent, as proven by his annual sub-3.00 ERA, lifetime 18.0 fWAR, ridiculous strikeout percentages, and seven All-Star nominations. It wasn’t long ago that he was in the running for a Cy Young Award, too. But, while his asking price may no longer be exorbitant, it’s unclear just how much playing time he’ll be willing to sacrifice in order to hold out for the multi-year deal he deserves.
The Yankees’ 2019 run ended in heartbreak on Saturday night when, despite a stunning ninth-inning comeback, they fell 6-4 to the Astros and officially lost their bid for the AL pennant. Now, facing a long offseason, there are a few decisions to be made.
One of those falls on the shoulders of outfielder Aaron Hicks, who told reporters that he “thinks he can continue playing without Tommy John surgery.” It’s unclear whose recommendation he’s basing that decision on, however, as MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch points out that Tommy John surgery was recommended during the slugger’s most recent meeting with Dr. Neal ELAttrache.
Hicks originally sustained a season-ending right flexor strain in early August and held several consultations with ElAttrache and the Yankees’ physician in the months that followed. He spent two and a half months on the 60-day injured list and finally returned to the Yankees’ roster during the ALCS, in which he went 2-for-13 with a base hit and a Game 5 three-run homer against the Astros.
Of course, a handful of strong performances doesn’t definitively prove that the outfielder is fully healed — or that he’ll be able to avoid aggravating the injury with further activity. Granted, Tommy John surgery isn’t a minor procedure; it’s one that requires up to a year of rest and rehabilitation before most players are cleared to throw again. Should Hicks wait to reverse his decision until he reports for spring training in 2020, though, it could push his return date out by another six months or so.