During MLB’s General Manager meetings on Tuesday, Chicago White Sox GM Rick Hahn discussed Craig Kimbrel and his future with the club. Reports earlier this offseason indicated the Sox would pick up his club option with intentions of trading him, and Hahn left the door open to that possibility.
The White Sox acquired Kimbrel from the Cubs in exchange for right-handed pitcher Codi Heuer and second baseman Nick Madrigal on July 30.
Kimbrel was an All-Star in 2021 with the Cubs. The North Siders primarily used him in the ninth inning, where he has made a Hall of Fame career. After the White Sox traded for Kimbrel, he frequently served in a seventh- or eighth-inning role, in which he never found his groove.
In ninth-inning appearances (36.1 IP) between the White Sox and Cubs last season, Kimbrel possessed a 0.99 ERA with a 0.99 opponent batting average against and .191 OBP against.
In the eighth inning, it was much worse. Kimbrel pitched 18.1 innings with a 4.42 ERA. It was almost like he was a different pitcher on the mound.
Hahn admitted there could be a better use of Kimbrel’s skills compared to how the Sox handled his usage in 2021. Now that the White Sox have exercised Kimbrel’s option, which could obviously be to retain him, it could set up a trade to fill other areas of need.
“Thought process there,” Hahn said of the move, “is obviously we viewed him as a potentially impactful reliever as he’s been for the vast majority of his career, and we’re not alone in that opinion. So, what we have to figure out is whether it makes the most sense to have Craig in a White Sox uniform going forward, or is there a better use of that spot and him perhaps via trade.”
It seems all options are on the table as the White Sox ponder what the best decision is regarding the eight-time MLB All-Star. If the Sox continue to stick with closer Liam Hendriks in all ninth-inning opportunities, the numbers say it’s best to move on for the Kimbrel experiment.
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