Report: Phillies “In” on Craig Kimbrel, “Everything”
The Phillies have suffered some devastating blows in the last few weeks. Andrew McCutchen tore his ACL. Odubel Herrera was arrested. Pitchers Zach Eflin and Adam Morgan were added to an injured list that already included relievers David Robertson, Tommy Hunter, Pat Neshek, Victor Arano and Edubray Ramos. But the Phillies front office has no plans to give up.
According to Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com, the Phillies are going to be very active. That includes free agent closer Craig Kimbrel:
Somewhat counterintuitively, the loss of McCutchen could make the Phillies more likely to sign Kimbrel. Why? With David Robertson, Pat Neshek, Adam Morgan and Tommy Hunter on the injured list, their desire to upgrade the bullpen is undeniable. And since they need to preserve some prospect capital to pursue a replacement for McCutchen via trade, the Phillies are best served using money alone to address the closer’s role.
Kimbrel is now available to sign with a team without draft pick compensation attached, since the draft is now mostly over.
The Phillies will face competition for Kimbrel's services. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Chicago Cubs are "pushing hard" for Kimbrel. Morosi also tweeted that the Atlanta Braves, who reportedly had interest in Kimbrel, are not among the "finalists" for Kimbrel, suggesting that this could happen soon.
The Chicago Cubs are in great need of a closer. Like the Phillies, the Cubs are facing injuries in the bullpen. Pedro Strop, a key reliever for the Cubs, has been on the injured list. There might be one advantage for the Phillies.
That advantage is money. If the Chicago Cubs do not wish to exceed the luxury tax, they will have trouble finding the money for Kimbrel. The Phillies still have a comfortable amount of money under the competitive balance tax threshold. Even after adding Jay Bruce, the Phillies still have somewere in the $16 million range.
The season already one-third done, a $15 million, one-year deal deal for Kimbrel prorated down would only hit the Phillies for about $10 million. Unlike any trades, Kimbrel will only cost the Phillies money. Their prospects could be appropriated elsewhere, such as center field.
Kimbrel or not, the Phillies will remain active on the trade front.