Welcome to Boston.com’s Sports Q, our daily conversation, initiated by you and moderated by Chad Finn, about a compelling topic in Boston sports. Here’s how it works: You submit questions to Chad through Twitter, Facebook, email, his Friday chat, and any other outlet you prefer. He’ll pick one each weekday to answer, then we’ll take the discussion to the comments. Chad will stop by several times per day to navigate. But you drive the conversation.
I know Craig Kimbrel drives everyone crazy, but that’s kind of how it goes with closers. Statistically, he’s one of the best of all time. Shouldn’t he be the Red Sox’ priority among their own free agents, or should it be someone else? I think they’d miss him if he were gone. – Matt R.
Well, I’d disagree with the statement that this is how it is with closers. Kimbrel generally got the job done during the postseason, but any time he came in and walked the leadoff guy, I found myself longing for the 2013 version of Koji Uehara. He was the most drama-free closer I’ve ever seen, and Jonathan Papelbon in ’07 was pretty efficient, too.
It seems to me this is the perfect time to let Kimbrel walk. He’s still good, and he’s only 30, but he’s about to get seriously paid, and there are small signs of slippage. He had a career-high home run rate this year (one per nine innings) and walked 4.5 batters per nine. In the playoffs, he walked eight in 10.2 innings. Let some other franchise pay for his decline.
So who should the free-agent priority be among Joe Kelly, Nathan Eovaldi, Steve Pearce, Drew Pomeranz, and Ian Kinsler? Easy choice for me, practically and sentimentally: Eovaldi. He’ll probably be resting his elbow in ice all offseason after what he did for the Red Sox in October, and it almost seems like they’re obligated to give him a new deal, given his heavy workload.
It doesn’t work like that, though, so fortunately there are great baseball reasons to keep him. He’s a great teammate, a versatile pitcher who wants the ball in big spots, and, oh yeah, he throws 100 miles per hour with a couple of other killer pitches. I’d love to see the Red Sox sign him to be the No. 4 starter. To me, he’s the priority. Hope they bring back Pearce, too.
What do you all think? Who should be the Red Sox’ priority in free agency? I’ll hear you in the comments.