Craig Kimbrel does not have to be trade fodder for Chicago White Sox

Oct 8, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) reacts to giving up a two run home run to the Houston Astros during the seventh inning in game two of the 2021 ALDS at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 8, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) reacts to giving up a two run home run to the Houston Astros during the seventh inning in game two of the 2021 ALDS at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Chicago White Sox appeared to have put together a dominant bullpen for last year’s playoff run. Pairing Craig Kimbrel and Liam Hendriks, on paper, gave the White Sox a formidable duo in the back of the bullpen. That did not prove to be the case as Kimbrel struggled in the eighth inning, dooming the White Sox in the postseason.

That led to the expectation that Kimbrel would be traded in the offseason. The White Sox had indicated that they were picking up his option to deal him away, hoping to recoup some of the prospect capital that they traded away. Adding Kendall Graveman only added to that speculation.

Maybe the Chicago White Sox do not need to trade Craig Kimbrel

It is difficult to expect that the White Sox would recoup their losses. Kimbrel struggled in his new role, posting a 5.09 ERA and a 1.217 WHiP in his 23 innings. This followed rough showings in 2019 and 2020, making it fair to wonder what type of a market Kimbrel would have.

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But it is also fair to look at the circumstances of those three seasons. Kimbrel signed late in 2019 due to his being given the Qualifying Offer and never seemed to get on track. The 2020 pandemic shortened season impacted plenty of players and likely had an effect on Kimbrel’s performance. His struggles with the White Sox could be the result of changing teams and roles.

The 2022 season could be different. Kimbrel would have a defined role at the start of the season and would not have to change teams. Even if the start of the year is pushed back a bit due to the lockout, Kimbrel should have a relatively normal offseason to get ready for 2022.

It makes sense for the White Sox to see what they have in such a scenario. Kimbrel could give Chicago a formidable three headed monster in the bullpen, something that could have even more significance in what should be a more difficult division. Having a strong bullpen can also make a difference in the playoffs, as Kimbrel’s struggles impacted their postseason hopes.

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Having Craig Kimbrel in a set role with a normal offseason would benefit the Chicago White Sox. Maybe a trade is not the right move.