MLB Rumor: Phillies Should Be Careful Pursuing Craig Kimbrel

We know the Phillies are big-game hunting this offseason with the top two position players on the market and perhaps the top starting pitcher, Patrick Corbin.

They also, according to a report Wednesday by FOX Sports' Jon Morosi, could make a play at the free-agent class' most accomplished reliever: Craig Kimbrel.

Kimbrel is 30 years old and coming off a World Series title with the Red Sox. He spent three seasons in Boston, posting ERAs of 3.40, 1.43 and 2.74 while saving 155 games in 166 chances. 

He's been dominant for a decade, but Kimbrel was not at his peak in 2018. 

2017 - 1.43 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, 16.4 K/9, 1.8 BB/9

2018 - 2.74 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 13.9 K/9, 4.5 BB/9

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That's a huge increase in walks, and watching Kimbrel navigate the ninth inning this past season, it was more of an adventure than it is for him in most years. He had bouts of wildness all season, walking more batters than his career rate in five of six months and then issuing eight free passes in 10⅔ innings during a shaky postseason.

Despite how his October went, the Red Sox will still make an effort to keep Kimbrel. A contending team needs a reliable ninth-inning man and the Red Sox just don't have one waiting in the bullpen. 

That said, the Red Sox don't appear poised to outbid the competition for Kimbrel if the price tag is much higher than the three years, $37.5 million he made in Boston, per the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo.

The Braves, Nationals and Cardinals have been listed as other suitors for Kimbrel.

Quite frankly, the Phillies shouldn't go too deep into a bidding war for Kimbrel at this point either. While he's still very good and could easily be better in 2019 and 2020 than he was in 2018, you have to consider the depth of this free-agent relief class. 

If you want a right-hander, there's Kimbrel, Adam Ottavino, David Robertson, Jeurys Familia, Cody Allen, Kelvin Herrera, Sergio Romo and Bud Norris.

If you want a lefty, there's Zach Britton, Andrew Miller, Zach Duke, Brad Brach and a bunch of specialists.

Just plenty of routes the Phillies could go to pair Seranthony Dominguez with an experienced setup man or closer.

There is no doubt Kimbrel would make the Phillies' bullpen better, likely for at least two years, maybe three. But offering Kimbrel a contract of, say, four years, $52 million could prove regrettable for a Phillies team that has plenty of money but also plenty of holes, and plenty of other ways to improve with players who contribute more than 65 innings per season.

Be sure to check back here for all the latest Phillies news, rumors and analysis during what's sure to be a fun offseason.

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