Boston Red Sox could still pursue Craig Kimbrel

Jun 13, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) celebrates after getting the final out against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 13, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) celebrates after getting the final out against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Boston Red Sox had seemingly taken themselves out of the Craig Kimbrel Sweepstakes. After signing current closer Matt Barnes to a two year extension, with a team option for 2024, it would seem that the last thing that the Red Sox would need to focus on would be a closer. They may look to upgrade other areas of the bullpen, or the pitching staff as a whole, but the ninth inning was spoken for.

However, that may not be the case. According to Buster Olney, the Red Sox may be in a better position to land Kimbrel now that Barnes has been paid.

Boston Red Sox could still pursue Craig Kimbrel

It would be easier to justify such a deal to Barnes now that his extension has been finalized. While Barnes had stated his desire to remain in Boston, and likely would not have complained, his performance would have made that move seem a bit strange. As Olney said, now that Barnes has his salary locked into place, it will be easier to change his role for the time being.

Barnes a potential bargain. light. More Red Sox

Kimbrel does have a longer track record than Barnes as a closer. He has also been one of the top closers in baseball this season, notching 20 saves while posting a 0.57 ERA and a 0.663 WHiP in his 31.2 innings, striking out 54 batters with ten walks. After two rough seasons, he is back to being that dominant weapon in the ninth inning that he had been in the past.

Those previous two seasons are a reason for concern however. Kimbrel had struggled before dominating this year, giving up 16 homers while issuing 43 walks in his 86 innings over the previous two seasons. He had even lost his closer role for a time, a testament to how bad his struggles were.

Kimbrel is still an intriguing option. If he and Barnes can continue their level of performance from this year, the Red Sox could be able to build the type of bullpen buzzsaw that can make a difference in the postseason. Kimbrel would be the first step towards that.

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The Boston Red Sox could still be targeting Craig Kimbrel. By extending Matt Barnes, they may have made their job easier.