The Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox have agreed to a trade that will send closer Craig Kimbrel across town to the ChiSox, the teams announced. The Cubs are getting second baseman Nick Madrigal and right-handed reliever Codi Heuer in the trade. Kimbrel, 33, is having his best season in years and was the top reliever on the market. Through 39 appearances, he's posted a 0.49 ERA (826 ERA+) and a 4.92 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
He recently made his eighth All-Star Game, and it's at least conceivable that he'll receive down-ballot Cy Young Award consideration for the first time since 2017. Here's what CBS Sports wrote when we ranked Kimbrel as the summer's No. 10 trade candidate.
All it took for Craig Kimbrel to return to an elite standing was a normal offseason. He was stuck in purgatory until June in 2019; then he had his 2020 season delayed alongside everyone else by the global pandemic. Kimbrel has looked like his old self this year, pumping upper-90s fastballs over bats when he's not dropping curveballs under them. He's certain to be the best closer available at the deadline, and he carries with him the added bonus of having a $16 million club option for next season that includes a $1 million buyout.
Kimbrel has accrued the six-most saves since the last round of expansion, trailing only Joe Nathan, Billy Wagner, Francisco Rodriguez, Trevor Hoffman, and Mariano Rivera.
It's worth noting that this is the third time in Kimbrel's career that he's been traded. In April 2015 he was traded by the Atlanta Braves to the San Diego Padres in a deal that also included B.J. Upton, Cameron Maybin, Carlos Quentin, and Matt Wisler. (The Braves also received a draft pick that later allowed them to select third baseman Austin Riley.) Then, in November of that same year, he was sent to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Logan Allen, Carlos Asuaje, Javy Guerra, and Manuel Margot.
As far as the Cubs' return, Madrigal, 24, has been sidelined since early June because of a torn hamstring. He'll miss the remainder of the season after recently undergoing surgery. Madrigal did hit .305/.349/.425 (114 OPS+) with two home runs and a stolen base (on three tries) in 215 plate appearances this season. He's an extreme contact hitter whose whiff rate remains the lowest in the majors among hitters with more than 200 trips to the plate. Madrigal is also a fast runner and a good defensive second baseman. He's under team control through the 2026 season.
Heuer, 25, hasn't replicated an impressive 2020 season. In 40 games this year, he's accumulated a 5.12 ERA (84 ERA+) and a 3.90 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Heuer does have good stuff: his fastball clocks in at 96.5 mph on average, and both his slider and changeup are swing-and-miss offerings. Everything plays up, too, because of a deep release point (the distance from the pitching rubber to his hand at release is over seven feet). Heuer won't qualify for free agency until after the 2025 season, and he could become a late-inning fixture.