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Although he never quite settled in after being acquired at the trade deadline, the Chicago White Sox will pick up their $16 million club option for Craig Kimbrel, reports ESPN's Jeff Passan. The club could have made a clean break and paid Kimbrel a $1 million buyout to decline the option and send him into free agency, but decided against it. The White Sox have not yet confirmed the news.

Kimbrel, 33, joined the White Sox in a deadline deal that sent righty reliever Codi Heuer and second baseman Nick Madrigal across town to the Chicago Cubs. Kimbrel was outstanding with the Cubs, saving 23 games and pitching to a 0.49 ERA with 64 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings. That earned him an All-Star Game selection. He then allowed 13 runs in 23 innings with the ChiSox.

Craig Kimbrel
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"We've centered on a couple of simple things in his delivery that he continues to monitor," assistant pitching coach Curt Hasler told reporters, including Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times, in September. "There were some delivery things, how he wasn't using his back leg. We looked at before-and-after video, and he saw right away and said, 'That's it.' It's not difficult."

Kimbrel never did figure it out though, and allowed a run in nine of his 24 appearances with the White Sox. He also allowed three runs in two postseason innings spread across three appearances. There is some thought Kimbrel struggled adjusting to the eighth inning and a setup role behind closer Liam Hendriks, though everyone involved downplayed that possibility.

Given his struggles and the seemingly poor fit, the White Sox now figure to explore the trade market for Kimbrel. He showed earlier this year he can still be an elite closer, though his price tag and struggles with the South Siders will cut into his trade value. There is little chance Chicago will net a package as valuable as Heuer and Madrigal, though Kimbrel is not valueless.

The Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies immediately jump to mind as potential landing spots for Kimbrel. Basically every team that hopes to contend in 2022 and has a clear opening in the ninth inning, plus the financial wherewithal to absorb a $16 million closer, can be considered a potential suitor for Kimbrel.

Even after trading Kimbrel, the White Sox would still figure to boast a strong bullpen led by Hendriks and lefty ground ball specialist Aaron Bummer. Lefty Garrett Crochet could be in the bullpen mix as well, though Chicago may move him into a starting role.