One of the biggest areas of need for the Washington Nationals was the ninth inning.
Tanner Rainey led the Nationals with 12 saves last year, but also underwent Tommy John surgery and could be lost for the 2023 season. Kyle Finnegan performed well when he took over but he is a question mark. Sean Doolittle is a presence again as he signed a minor league deal and could work his way back into that role. This is a situation where it would make sense to take a chance on a proven closer on a make good deal.
Craig Kimbrel could be that closer. He had been one of the best closers in the game until 2019 when he signed after the MLB Draft due to the Qualifying Offer. Between his late signing that year, the pandemic in 2020, being unable to adapt to a setup role with the White Sox, and ongoing command issues with the Dodgers this past season, Kimbrel’s days of dominance appear long in the past.
But there is something to be said for those Official Proven Closers. They will continue to get chances to bounce back and prove themselves. In Kimbrel’s case, his best option could be to look for a one year deal on a rebuilding team, hoping to prove himself and be traded to a contender at the deadline. If he is determined to close, that may be his best option.
The Washington Nationals need to find bullpen pieces as well. Taking a chance on Craig Kimbrel could pay off, especially at the deadline.