Salk: If Mariners signed Craig Kimbrel, it could be foolproof bullpen solution

Apr 23, 2019, 6:07 AM

Could the Mariners sign perennial All-Star closer and free agent Craig Kimbrel? (Getty)...

Could the Mariners sign perennial All-Star closer and free agent Craig Kimbrel? (Getty)


I didn’t think I’d say this – I kind of think the Mariners should sign Craig Kimbrel.

I have been steadfastly against this. I am pro-rebuild. And I still know in the back of my mind that it’s probably not a good idea.

But why not?

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I think you could make it almost foolproof. It’s not 100 percent foolproof – there are still some negatives to the plan – but what’s the real downside in signing Kimbrel? The only flaw in the plan I can find is the fact that you would have to lose a high-round draft pick that would go to the Red Sox as compensation if Kimbrel is signed before the MLB Draft in June.

At this point it sounds like what he wants is a contract in the three-year range, so he’s down from his six-year plan, which is good news. The Mets have some interest in him but they want him to pitch in whatever role they want because they already have Edwin Díaz and they want to create a super pen. But Kimbrel wants to close, as he should as one of the most successful closers of all-time.

The Mariners could use a guy like that. They’re ahead late in a lot of games late because they’re hitting the ball so well.

So if you’re the Mariners, what would signing Kimbrel cost you? Just money. You don’t have to deal any prospects to get him – just money that you’re saving right now. And if you sign Kimbrel and the team heads the wrong direction, you can trade him for prospects. By the end of the year somebody is going to be desperate because their closer will be hurt, so all signing and then trading Kimbrel would cost you is money.

The trickle-down effect ends up helping out your bullpen, too. Now you have Roenis Elías, Anthony Swarzak and Brandan Brennan to set up, and all of the sudden you have a pen that at the very least is Major League-quality.

Why not?

Craig Kimbrel at a glance

• 42 saves (plus six in postseason) for 2018 World Series champion Red Sox
• Seven-time All-Star
• Finished in top 10 of Cy Young Award voting five times
• Four-time NL leader in saves
• 2011 National League Rookie of the Year
• 31 saves or more in all eight of his full MLB seasons
• Fastest pitcher in history to 300 saves
• Finished four seasons with sub-2.00 ERA
• Only once finished a season with an ERA higher than 3.00
• Will turn 31 on May 28

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Salk: If Mariners signed Craig Kimbrel, it could be foolproof bullpen solution