It’s taken awhile, but the Red Sox shouldn’t wait any longer to solidify their ninth inning.
In a near repeat of last offseason, the Red Sox have followed the blueprint. Dave Dombrowski has retained the majority of the in-house talent while being incredibly patient with the rest of the open market.
Last season, the “big fish” was J.D. Martinez and he took quite awhile to land. In that case, it was relatively clear that Scott Boras was set on getting maximum value for his client while the Red Sox were willing to drive the price down throughout the offseason. Here we are again, but rather with a member of the 2018 World Series team.
Craig Kimbrel surprised most of the baseball world when it was discovered that his contractual demands were roughly 6 years / $100+ million. Unfortunately for Craig, those demands have not nearly met a club’s desire. The Red Sox are still without a closer and they would be wise to pursue a shorter deal. While Ryan Brasier was a nice story last season, his performance didn’t suggest that he’d be ready to take over the 9th inning. Similarly, Matt Barnes has flashed potential, but his inconsistency throughout his career may deter Dave Dombrowski and Alex Cora from handing him the ninth.
In the Sox’ case, they don’t need to invest in a long term deal for a closer. They have a number of impressive reliever prospects – specifically Travis Lakins and Durbin Feltman – that have showed flashes of what could become a formidable setup / closer combination in the future. Lakins may make the Opening Day roster, but Feltman should be allowed more time in the minors to develop. Retaining Craig Kimbrel would allow for the Red Sox to continue to allow their “closer of the future develop”, while maintaining a position to repeat as champions this season.
Don’t let the eye test fool you with Kimbrel. Yes, he was a bit of a rollercoaster in the postseason, but his numbers are on pace for a date in Cooperstown. He currently ranks 1st all time in FIP (1.96) , ERA+ (211), K% (41.6), and Opp. OPS (.485). The Red Sox are in a “win now” mode with the way that the roster is currently constructed and re-adding Kimbrel to the current roster would do nothing to expel that notion.
There are financial issues to address within the next couple of seasons, but for now the focus should be on winning another World Series title in 2019.