Every team in competition for the NL East title with the Mets this season -- the Nationals, Braves, and Phillies -- reportedly have varying degrees of interest in signing free agent reliever Craig Kimbrel.
The Nats "maintain interest" in inking Kimbrel and the Braves are "exploring" it, reports The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal.
The Phillies, who just signed Bryce Harper to the biggest deal in the history of North American sports, would initially only be interested in Kimbrel on a "pretty short-term" contract, reports FanCred's Jon Heyman.
It was reported in December that the 30-year-old Kimbrel was seeking a deal worth more than $100 million for six years, which is patently insane. And according to former Red Sox teammate Brock Holt, Kimbrel had exactly zero contract offers as of February.
Kimbrel had some hiccups in the postseason for the Sox as they won the World Series (he walked eight batters in 10.2 innings and allowed three runs in 2.1 innings in the ALDS), but was his usual dominant self during the regular season, with a 2.74 ERA (3.13 FIP) and 0.99 WHIP with 96 strikeouts in 62.1 innings.
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While Aroldis Chapman signed a five-year deal worth $86 million before his age-29 season, a deal of that length and value for a reliever is an anomaly. And Chapman was roughly two years younger than Kimbrel is now when he signed it. Translation: It would be stunning if Kimbrel's eventual deal came anywhere close to his initial ask.
The Nationals, Braves, and Phillies all have a bigger need for a lockdown closer than the Mets do, but New York should at the very least be exploring what it would take to land Kimbrel. Doing so would give them arguably the most lethal bullpen in baseball, with Kimbrel joining Jeurys Familia and Edwin Diaz in the late innings.
And if Kimbrel appears to be headed to the Nationals, Braves, or Phillies, the Mets swooping in would not only strengthen their team, but prevent one of their rivals from getting one of the best relievers in baseball -- a tactic they put to use when closing the trade that brought Diaz from the Mariners.
Kimbrel to the Mets might be a pipe dream for two reasons (one being the cost and another being the potential issue that would arise if Kimbrel wants to close and the Mets want Diaz to close). But they should absolutely be looking into what it might take.
While signing Kimbrel would put an exclamation point on the Mets' offseason and be a response of sorts to the Phils landing Harper (which GM Brodie Van Wagenen was publicly unmoved by), a better fit for them is Dallas Keuchel, who is still on the market and reportedly of interest to Philadelphia.