On Wednesday, June 5th, 2019, the Chicago Cubs reached a contract agreement with 31-year-old relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel, formerly with the Boston Red Sox. The all-star closer spent the beginning of the 2019 MLB season at home unable to come to terms with a ball club until this week’s $43 million opportunity.

This came at a great time for both parties involved as the Cubs absolutely needed help out of their bullpen while the World Series champion ball player was looking for a multi-year contract with a winning baseball organization.

The Contract:

The Chicago Cubs and Kimbrel agreed upon a three-year deal worth approximately $43 million including an option for a fourth year. He will be paid $10 million this season, and $16 million both in 2020 and 2021. The agreement will become official once he passes a physical examination. Apparently, the Huntsville, Alabama native turned down short term deals with the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins.

MLB Background:

  • Atlanta Braves (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)
  • San Diego Padres (2015)
  • Boston Red Sox (2016, 2017, 2018)
  • Chicago Cubs (2019-?)

Career Accomplishments and Awards:

Kimbrel is a seven time MLB All Star (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018) as well as a World Series champion (2018) with the Boston Red Sox last season. He was named the National League Rookie of the Year in 2011, Delivery Man of the Year in 2013, and two time Reliever of the Year (2014, 2017). The star closer led the National League in saves four times (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014). He also pitched an immaculate inning on May 11th, 2017. An immaculate inning occurs when the pitcher strikes out all three batters on nine straight strikes.

Career Statistics:

  • Wins Above Replacement – 20.1
  • Wins – 31
  • Losses – 19
  • Earned Run Average – 1.91
  • Games – 542
  • Games Started – 0
  • Saves – 333
  • Innings Pitched – 532.2
  • Strike Outs – 868
  • WHIP – 0.920

Comments from Cubs President, Theo Epstein:

“I’ve been open about (how) we’ll be aggressive this year with the bullpen,” Epstein said just prior to the new agreement was publicly announced. “We’ve moved some pieces around internally, got some nice contributions from some guys in Triple A.

“We have a number of relievers throwing well, but we’re trying to get better. We’ve been open about the fact at some point we’ll probably get some help from outside the organization.”

“There’s usually not quality free agents rolling around at this time of year. Any guy that’s out there, we’ll certainly do our due diligence and see if that makes sense,” says Epstein.

“There are always unknowns that come up during the season that can impact your financial picture,” Epstein said. “This year, in particular, there have been some unexpected variables that could possibly give us a little more flexibility than we would have imagined.”

We’re getting there,” Epstein explains. “It’s a long way to the trade deadline. We’ve shown we have a lot of talent, and the way we bounced back from that early-season adversity showed some character. And the rotation has a chance to be a real strength for us and keep us in every game the way they’ve thrown the ball, which is great.”

“Our offense has had ups and downs, as with any offense. But by and large, we’ve shown the second half of last season was an aberration and guys have made good adjustments. We’re in a better spot now, up and down the lineup. We’ve had nice performances out of the pen, but certainly it’s an area we plan to be aggressive, and an addition can help guys slide into the right spots and make it a real strength for us.”

An Eventful Season for the Cubbies:

In addition to this deal, David Bote signed a 5-year contract with Chicago worth up to $28.6 million in May 2019. The team got back into the groove after a slow start. Most recently, Albert Almora Jr.’s line drive into the stands, which hit a 4-year-old girl, made headlines and encouraged change to MLB safety standards. The team went from worst to first in the National League Central division this year, and with the addition of Kimbrel, look for Chicago to keep on rolling this season by making a deep playoff run.