The Craig Kimbrel sweepstakes have finally come to a close. The Chicago Cubs agreed to a deal with the stud closer on Wednesday evening.
Kimbrel has been one of the game’s elite closers since recording 46 saves and winning NL Rookie of the Year with the Atlanta Braves in 2011. From 2011-2018, he averaged 41.5 saves with a terrific 1.97 ERA and 14.6 K/9 across 512 innings. He’ll certainly be a welcome sight to the Cubs’ bullpen.
While the Cubs rank eighth in baseball with a 4.02 bullpen ERA, the team is tied for the third-most blown saves with 11 in just 23 opportunities. Kimbrel will likely need some time in the minors to get used to live batters again, but once he returns to the MLB level, he should be the Cubs’ primary closer right out of the gate.
The Cubs are currently tied atop the NL Central with the Milwaukee Brewers, but all five teams in the division are within 5.5 games of each other. This move, however, gives the team a massive boost for the second half of the season and could make them the division favorites at this point.
Kimbrel’s fantasy value should be pretty high now, while other Cubs’ bullpen arms such as Steve Cishek and Pedro Strop likely won’t see many more save chances. Fantasy owners that have stashed the flamethrowing Kimbrel since Spring Training should be very excited that he found a perfect fit.
The financial details of Kimbrel’s contract are not yet available, but it is a multi-year deal. Part of the reason he waited so long to sign was because he was not looking for a one-year contract and the Cubs appear to be the first team to meet his demands.