The Chicago Cubs have been very careful with their free agent spending in recent months, but a big-time reliever that’s still on the free agent market is reportedly getting a lot of interest from the North Siders.
According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs are “pushing hard” to acquire the services of free agent closer Craig Kimbrel in a move that would bolster a bullpen that has been one of the league’s worst at finishing out save opportunities this season.
Another report from MLB Network’s Jon Morosi indicates that the Cubs are aggressively trying to pursue Kimbrel, and they are currently considered the “front-runners” to sign him, according to an interview on 670 the Score’s McNeil and Parkins Show.
Kimbrel converted 42 saves last season for the World Series-winning Boston Red Sox, making his seventh All-Star team in his big league career. He struck out 96 batters in 62 innings of work, and gave up just 19 earned runs in his 63 appearances.
Over the weekend, Rosenthal had reported that the Cubs were kicking the tires on Kimbrel because of the money they’re saving with infielder Ben Zobrist on the restricted list. That money could be applied toward a Kimbrel contract without putting the Cubs over the luxury tax threshold, and as a result the team is aggressively seeking to get him in the fold, according to reports.
Another factor working to the Cubs’ advantage is the MLB Draft, as they will no longer have to give up a draft pick to sign Kimbrel. While the Cubs didn’t have a high draft pick in the first round, they still are trying to bolster their prospect depth, and losing a first round pick would have been a tough pill to swallow after giving up picks the last few seasons.