Though Craig Kimbrel was at one point said to be seeking a six-year contract worth as much as $100M, Fancred’s Jon Heyman writes in his latest notes column that the asking price on Kimbrel has come down a bit. Kimbrel’s camp, however, is still eyeing a contract along the lines of the $86M and $80M contracts signed by Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen two offseasons ago.
Given Kimbrel’s track record of elite performance, it’s not exactly surprising to see him aiming for a potentially record-setting deal, though it’s important to note that both Chapman and Jansen were younger than Kimbrel when signing those deals more than two years ago. Kimbrel is only three months younger than Chapman and eight months younger than Jansen, which will likely make it difficult for him to secure a contract of that length and total guarantee.
The market for Kimbrel remains somewhat undefined, though the Red Sox have some degree of interest in retaining him; Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that Boston is waiting to see what happens with Kimbrel before taking action on the relief market. Heyman, however, notes that the current asking price is still deemed too high by the Red Sox front office.
Some other notes on the market for relievers…
- Heyman notes that the Red Sox also have interest in David Robertson, though their preference would be to limit a Robertson signing to two years, while the veteran righty is believed to be aiming for a three-year pact. Robertson, 34 in April, is representing himself in free agency this winter and has been connected to both the Dodgers and Mets in recent weeks. Robertson, who has split his career between the Yankees and White Sox, has pitched at least 60 innings and made at least 60 appearances in each of the past nine seasons and is fresh off a 3.23 ERA with 11.8 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9 in 69 2/3 innings in 2018.
- With Andrew Miller reportedly on the verge of a contract with the Cardinals, Matt Gelb of The Athletic reports that the Phillies’ search for a left-handed reliever in free agency could be down to “Zach Britton or bust,” noting that Britton has numerous teams with serious interest in his services. The Phils were in on both Miller and Britton, with NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury reporting last week that the team was “strongly” in the mix for Miller. Britton is, of course, quite familiar to Phillies brass, as president Andy MacPhail, GM Matt Klentak and assistant GM Ned Rice were all in the Orioles front office when Britton was drafted and developed. The trade market could certainly present alternatives, though there’s no one with the track record of either Miller or Britton known to be available.
Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets that Miller’s impending deal with the Cardinals will have ramifications for the Giants as well. San Francisco has been waiting for Miller, Britton and others to sign before marketing their own left-handed relievers (i.e. Will Smith, Tony Watson). There are numerous hopeful contenders in need of left-handed relief help, and both Smith and Watson are coming off strong 2018 showings. Smith, projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $4.1M in 2019, will be a free agent again next offseason. Watson, meanwhile, is signed to a guaranteed $3.5M salary for the 2019 season and is owed at least a $500K buyout on a $2.5M option for the 2020 season. Of course, if Watson replicates his excellent 2018 production, he’ll surely turn down that option in favor of a return to free agency. And, if he struggles through a poor season or is injured, he’ll quite likely take that guaranteed $2.5M for the 2020 campaign.