The Boston Red Sox entered the 2019 off-season with a clear need in the bullpen. Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly hit free agency, and Boston had a slew of options to replace the two relievers. However, David Robertson, Kelvin Herrera, Adam Ottavino, and Zach Britton are now off the market. The Red Sox haven’t added anyone
However, that doesn’t appear to be the case. According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Boston Red Sox are unlikely to bring back their former closer for another stint. President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski stated that Boston isn’t looking for a big expenditure at the closer position, and he’s apparently sticking by that message.
Report: Boston Red Sox, Craig Kimbrel Reunion Unlikely
The Red Sox may add one or two cheap arms between now and spring training, but overall they seem comfortable with the players already on the roster. Dombrowski stated that Barnes and Brasier will battle for the closer’s role, while Tyler Thornburg and Steven Wright both have outside chances of stealing the job.
Thornburg was bad during 2018, posting a 5.63 ERA and a 4.85 FIP in 24 innings of work. That said, it was his first year back from injury, so some subpar performances are expected. If Thornburg can recapture his 2016 form, then he should compete for the closer role. Wright was fantastic when healthy, posting a 1.52 ERA as a relief pitcher in 2018. However, Wright hasn’t been consistently healthy since 2016 and shouldn’t be relied upon in a significant role.
Kimbrel spent the past three seasons as the Red Sox closer, earning an All-Star appearance in each season. While he ended his Red Sox tenure on a low note, Kimbrel still had a fantastic stint with in Boston. Through his three seasons, Kimbrel posted a 2.44 ERA and a 2.43 FIP in a Red Sox uniform. He struck out an otherworldly 14.9 batters per nine innings while walking an above-average 3.7. Kimbrel’s best season came in 2017 when he posted a 1.43 ERA and a 1.42 FIP.
As of this posting, Kimbrel’s most likely home is the Philadelphia Phillies. Despite signing David Robertson earlier in the season, the Phillies reportedly want to add Kimbrel and superstar slugger Bryce Harper to the payroll.