(Photo Credit: SI)
By Terry Cushman – @cushmanMLB
In regards to Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, lets just get down to brass tax. Boston has never been an organization who pays for closers long term. Literally ever. Jonathan Papelbon is arguably the greatest closer in Red Sox history. He was drafted by the team in 2003, and served as it’s closer in six seasons from the beginning of 2006 through 2011. Also pitched the final out of the 2007 World Series which happened via a strikeout. However, even Pap was not offered an extension at the end of his contract, which resulted in a four year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. Two other former World Series ending hurlers, Keith Foulke and Koji Uehara, were both short term closers when they made their respective stamps on history.
On top of the fact that franchise precedence is not on Kimbrel’s side, Boston also has a complicated payroll problem. They are currently $35M beyond the first luxury taxthreshold, and $5M from the second one, in which the draft penalties become very severe should they exceed it.
All indictations are that Hanley Ramirez, barring an injury, will definitely reach the magic number of 497 at bats to trigger his $22M vesting option for 2019. David Price is set to “earn” $31M annually through 2022. He has an opt out available to him following this year, but it’s considered to be an extreme long shot. Many reasons for this are due to his poor performance thus far, injury concerns, and the fact his huge remaining balance would not be matched by another team. Not to mention previous statements Price has made about staying with Boston. Aside from these two players, no major contracts are scheduled to come off the books following the 2018 season.
How much large will Kimbrel’s upcoming free agent contract ultimately be worth? Considering he is well on his way to Cooperstown, likely on the first ballot, a good starting point would be in the neighborhood of the contract Aroldis Chapman signed. The Yankee closer returned to the team following the 2016 season on a five year, $85M contract ($17M annually). Also take into account the fact Kimbrel is already making $13M anually, its almost certain that his contract will exceed Chapman’s.
The extreme homers and pink hats will disagree with me, they usually do. However, I am absolutely positive the Red Sox will move on from their all star closer. The payroll flexibility to retain him just isn’t there. Carson Smith, Joe Kelly, and Bobby Poyner have emerged as inexpensive, and effective late inning relievers. Brandon Workman is still in the minors. Austin Maddox could also establish himself as an elite reliever. There are plenty of options from within the system to pitch the late innings at Fenway.
In a perfect world, the Red Sox would trade Kimbrel at the July 31 deadline. The Yankees did so with Chapman for a boat load of prospects in 2016. The Yankees were in “sell mode” at the time of that trade, which ultimately helped the Cubs win the World Series three months later. However, where the Red Sox are in “win now” mode, I do not expect a summer trade involving their ninth inning man. They will have to settle for a compensatory draft pick from whichever team ends up signing “Dirty Craig” after the month of October.
EPISODE 39 OF THE AVIDBOSTON PODCAST!!!
SOX GET EMBARRASSED BY OAKLAND. BAD MANAGING BY ALEX CORA? BLUE JAYS SERIES PRVIEW/MATCHUPS!
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