The Orioles are “seriously engaged” with a free-agent reliever Craig KimbrellJoel Sherman of the New York Post reports (X link). Baltimore engaged a number of bullpen arms late in the game as they looked to rebound from a loss Felix Bautista For Tommy John surgery.
The Kimbrel won’t be such a prominent pickup Josh Hader or Jordan Hicks, which Baltimore has also reportedly expressed interest in. However, a Kimbrel acquisition would be more affordable. This is more a reflection of his age (36 in May) than performance, as the nine-time All-Star had an overall solid showing for the Phillies.
After signing a $10 million free agent contract with Philadelphia last winter, Kimbrel served in his usual closing role. He made 23 saves with seven more fumbles while giving up just five leads in the regular season. The right-hander pitched to a 3.26 ERA over 69 innings, eliminating just over a third of opponents in the process. Kimbrel’s fastball was in the usual 96 mph range, while he caught whiffs on roughly 14% of his pitches.
It was a good season overall, even if it ended on a lesser note. Kimbrel allowed four runs with five hits and a walk each over six innings in the postseason. This was the second season in a row that did not end as he had hoped. Kimbrel has been left off the Dodgers’ playoff roster in 2022. However, his total work over the past three years — a 3.10 ERA with a 34.4% strikeout percentage across 188 2/3 innings — is very solid.
With the possible exception of Hader, no pitcher can be expected to compete with what the O’s expected from a healthy Bautista. Kimbrel remains an above-average reliever, though he has no qualms pitching in the ninth inning. If the O’s land him a closer for a season, they’ll be able to keep him Yenier Kano And Danny Colomb In setting capacity.
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