Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays are still in communication with free agent closer Craig Kimbrel, for whatever that’s worth at this point in the season. Topkin doesn’t reveal exactly how far along any potential discussions between the two sides might be, but it’s probably safe to say the Rays aren’t close to offering a formal deal just yet.
Kimbrel, now approaching his age-31 season in the majors, has been linked to the Phillies, Braves, Nationals, and Brewers this spring, though no one team has emerged as a clear frontrunner so far. Previous reports from MLB Network’s Jon Heyman indicated that the right-hander was willing to lower his asking price from a five-year contract to a three-year deal, which may still be too hefty a commitment for some of his potential suitors.
Last season, the veteran righty earned his seventh career All-Star nomination, rounding out a three-year stint with the Red Sox and pitching to 42 saves with a 2.74 ERA, 4.5 BB/9, and 13.9 SO/9 across 62 1/3 innings of relief. There’s no question the Rays could stand to benefit from Kimbrel’s proven experience, even as they already boast the third-best bullpen in the majors (per FanGraphs). Like their competitors, however, they may be waiting to make a play for the free agent until the MLB amateur draft concludes on June 5 and they no longer need to sacrifice their third-highest draft pick to do so.