Free-agent reliever Craig Kimbrel is the all-time leader in saves through an age-30 season. Yet less than a week from Opening Day, Kimbrel remains on the market. Sooner than later it appears that will change.
Kimbrel's "bidding" -- and we use that term lightly -- is reportedly down to the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers, per The Athletic's David O'Brien.
#Braves are still in on Kimbrel. From what I hear, it's between Milwaukee and Atlanta barring a late entry. If Braves could get him, their bullpen would from major question mark to solid in a hurry.— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) March 22, 2019
The Braves, Kimbrel's original team, have been tied to him throughout the winter. Kimbrel pitched for the Braves for five seasons before being traded to the San Diego Padres. The Braves have done little to address their bullpen this offseason. Were the season to start tomorrow, they would enter the year with oft-injured Arodys Vizcaino as their closer. Kimbrel would provide manager Brian Snitker with more reliability at the back end of games.
The same would be true for the Brewers and skipper Craig Counsell. Milwaukee has taken an interest in Kimbrel after learning that incumbent closer Corey Knebel has a damaged UCL. It's unknown if Knebel will require Tommy John surgery, but it seems more likely than not that he'll miss significant time due to his arm woes. Kimbrel, then, would come in handy.
Over the last three seasons Kimbrel has accumulated a 184 ERA+ and 4.07 strikeout-to-walk ratio. For his career, he ranks 14th all-time in saves. He'll move into the top 10 with 35 more.