Originally a member of the Atlanta Braves, would it make sense for the team to bring back its former closer?
Many have lamented the loss of Craig Kimbrel since the Atlanta Braves traded him to the San Diego Padres. While Austin Riley was a result of that trade, the rest of the players that were part of that deal are no longer with the organization.
With the Atlanta Braves looking into a need for a shut-down veteran in the bullpen, is Kimbrel the guy they want to pursue in the free agent market this year?
We’re going to put together a profile of Kimbrel, looking back at his time with the Braves, his time with the Padres, and his most recent time with the Red Sox. We’ll also take a look at where he sits in a historical respect among relievers. Finally, we’ll take a look at the possible contract he might require, and whether it’d be a wise decision for the Atlanta Braves to pursue him and join in the bidding.
Atlanta Braves time
Craig Kimbrel was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2008 draft. He moved quickly through the Atlanta Braves farm system, and he was so dynamic that he was one of the rare relief pitchers that was considered for top 100 lists. In fact, he was #86 for Baseball America and #56 for Baseball Prospectus coming into the 2011 season.
That 2011 season ended up being a top-10 Cy Young Award season, winning the National League Rookie of the Year, as Kimbrel saved 46 games to lead the National League, posting a 2.10 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and a 32/127 BB/K over 77 innings. Kimbrel’s follow up 2012 season was his best of his career, posting a 1.01 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, and a 14/116 BB/K over 62 2/3 innings.
After leading the National League in saves the first four seasons of his career and making the All-Star game as well, the Atlanta Braves traded Kimbrel to the San Diego Padres just before opening day in 2015.