Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Cubs have signed free agent reliever Craig Kimbrel to a multi-year deal. Jon Heyman reports that the deal is for $43 million over three years. Kimbrel finally signed because he no longer had draft pick compensation attached to him once the 2019 MLB Draft began.
Kimbrel, 31, finally has a new uniform after spending a whopping seven months in free agency. The right-hander, arguably among the greatest closers of all-time, famously struggled early in the postseason last year, yielding runs in each of his first four appearances against the Yankees and Astros. However, during the regular season, Kimbrel accrued 42 saves with a 2.74 ERA and a 96/31 K/BB ratio across 62 1/3 innings.
The Cubs’ bullpen didn’t feature a big-name closer, but the aggregate bullpen of 4.02 entering Wednesday’s action ranked eighth among all 30 MLB teams. Steve Cishek and Pedro Strop will presumably work behind Kimbrel once he’s ready.
It is not known exactly how long Kimbrel will need to get ready. Presumably, he would need a week or two of building himself up in the minors.