Phillies rumors: One of several teams talking to Craig Kimbrel
The Phillies are reportedly one of several teams engaged with Craig Kimbrel that could wind up signing him once he loses draft pick restriction Sunday.
While the Phillies and the rest of MLB prepare for the draft, which starts Monday, they also have to consider how to improve the major-league squad. One way to do that could be signing free agent pitchers Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel, both of whom are expected to finally join a team shortly.
Kimbrel and Keuchel were both extended qualifying offers by their former teams at the start of the last offseason, meaning whatever team signs them would have to give up a draft pick. However, once the clock hits midnight in the Eastern Time Zone Sunday, Kimbrel and Keuchel will both be full, unrestricted free agents. This likely means their signings will come in the next week following the draft.
Once those draft restrictions expire, expect the Phillies to be in the mix to sign Kimbrel. Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic (subscription required) reported that they are one of the teams “talking to” Kimbrel. The Twins, Cubs, Rays, and Braves are also reportedly interested in signing Kimbrel.
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The Cubs are a bit of a surprise to see linked to Kimbrel, but Rosenthal writes that Ben Zobrist being on the restricted list provides more room under the luxury tax threshold. They could save as much $9 million if he remains on the restricted list all year.
Rosenthal also wrote that Kimbrel is still expecting a multi-year contract. The most recent update regarding Kimbrel in April stated that he wanted a three-year deal worth between $13 million and $17 million a year. The Phillies have $43.4 million in luxury tax space according to Spotrac, so they could easily afford Kimbrel and have room to make other moves.
The team may be more inclined to sign Kimbrel with a rash of injuries striking the bullpen. They now have six relievers on the injured list, leaving Hector Neris and Seranthony Dominguez to hold together a piecemeal bullpen. Adding Kimbrel would provide some much-needed stability.
With Kimbrel’s draft restrictions going away Sunday, he should be signed very shortly. The Phillies will likely be one of the teams hoping to add Kimbrel to bolster their bullpen for a pennant race this year.