The Cubs lead the NL Central by 1 game over the Brewers but might have just made a season changing addition to their team. The bullpen has been the weakest link all year. In fact, Cubs relief pitchers have blown nearly 1/2 of all save chances this year. Out of 25 save chances the bullpen has converted just 13 of them. The Cubs record stands at 34-26, if you converted those 12 blown save chances this year the Cubs could own a 46-14 record which would be the best record in the Majors.
The Cubs reached a 3 year deal with one of the elite closers in MLB. The deal is worth just under $45 million for 3 years (actually 2 a 1/2). This ends a 7 month free agency period for the 31 year old. He turned down $17 per year to stay for another season with the defending champion Boston Red Sox. This deal will average $18-million per season ($9-million for this season). Here are the save numbers for Kimbrel the last 4 years:
2018- 42 Saves
2017- 35 Saves
2016- 31 Saves
2015- 39 Saves
The move will now put relief pitchers Pedro Strop, Steve Cishek, Brandon Kintzler, Brad Brach and Carl Edwards in earlier innings. If injured closer Brandon Morrow returns, he’ll be a great 8th inning setup man. Suddenly the bullpen looks much better. In a weird twist, the Cubs were able to use the savings from Ben Zobrist’s leave-of-absence to pay for his $10 million salary this season. Zobrist, who has been on the restricted list for the past month with he and his wife filing for divorce, may not return, freeing up about $9 million. It will take a few weeks for him to get in game shape. Although this might not help them until the end of June, it no doubt helps fill one of their biggest needs a closer. Here’s what former White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski has to say about the Cubs acquisition of Closer Craig Kimbrel.