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 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.
The Red Sox’ bullpen options seem to be getting down to slim pickings. David Robertson would have been perfect, but he signed with the Phillies and I guess the Red Sox didn’t want to pay him as much. I thought they might get Kelvin Herrera on a team-friendly deal, but he got $18 million for two years from the White Sox [Monday]. Maybe we should starting thinking about bringing Craig Kimbrel back. At least you know what you’re getting, which is one of the best closers statistically of all time, but he’ll give you heart-attack in big spots. What do you think? – Ian N.
Well, obviously, the biggest factor is cost. He’s not getting the six years and $100 million he supposedly coveted entering free agency. He’s getting a fraction of those years and that money, but how much of a fraction? I’d talk myself into a two-year, $36 million deal, but I doubt he’s lowered his sights quite that far just yet.
In general, though, I hope he’s not back. Yes, he’s been exceptional at times – I think we underrate how great his ’17 season was, when he struck out 126 batters in 69 innings with a .68 WHIP and just 33 hits allowed. Now that’s dominance. And last year, he dominated at times – he still allowed just 4.5 hits per nine innings while striking out 13.9 batters per nine. He still did his job well.
He also slipped in other areas – he walked 4.5 batters per nine innings, up from 1.8 in ’17, and that’s where a lot of fans’ frustration comes from with him. He makes his own trouble. He did it more than ever in the postseason, when, let’s admit it, he was pretty abysmal. It’s not fair to say they won in spite of him, because he got some big outs along the way. He just habitually added to the degree of difficulty in most victories.
I’m convinced this has worked out perfectly for the Red Sox and this is the time to let Kimbrel go. They got one exceptional season from him and two very good ones. But I suspect what we saw in the postseason is the beginning of a fast trend in the wrong direction – and it comes when he was looking for a nine-figure deal.
Bring me Adam Ottavino, and let someone else overpay for Kimbrel’s decline.
But what does everyone else think? Should the Red Sox re-sign Craig Kimbrel? I’ll hear you in the comments.