Oakland A’s should avoid Craig Kimbrel

Jun 24, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) is congratulated by manager David Ross (center) after pitching a scoreless ninth inning to complete a combined no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 24, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) is congratulated by manager David Ross (center) after pitching a scoreless ninth inning to complete a combined no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Oakland A’s clearly need bullpen help. With the back of their bullpen being worn down, and the middle of their relief corps failing to provide much of anything, the A’s will have some shopping to do before the deadline. As such, it is not a surprise that they have been considered a possible landing spot for several top relievers that could come available.

One such player is Cubs’ closer Craig Kimbrel. The speculation is that the A’s will be one of the finalists for his services, making a strong push to bring him in before July 30.

Oakland A’s should avoid Craig Kimbrel

It is easy to see why Kimbrel will be so coveted on the trade market. He has put together one of the best seasons of his career in 2021, posting a 0.59 ERA and a 0.652 WHiP over his 30.2 innings, striking out 53 batters with ten walks while notching 20 saves. Once again, he looks like the All Star closer he had been, a true weapon in the ninth inning.

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This season also marks a drastic turnaround from Kimbrel’s first two seasons in Chicago. He had combined for a 6.00 ERA and a 1.528 WHiP in his 36 innings, striking out 58 batters, but also issuing 24 walks. Kimbrel had lost the closer role in 2020 as his contract appeared to be on the verge of becoming a dud.

There were extenuating circumstances to both those years. Kimbrel had signed late in 2019 due to the Qualifying Offer and never seemed to get comfortable. Last season, due to the pandemic shortened year, he was again unable to find his groove. This season, with a normal offseason, Kimbrel appears to be back.

But that is the risk that any team bringing him in will have to take. He has occasionally been a high wire act, with his command fluctuating over the years. His hot start first half, and expectedly robust trade market, will lead to a bidding war, with the Cubs potentially getting better prospects than they could have imagined.

That is a problem for the A’s. There are enough holes on the roster, and in the bullpen especially, where one reliever will not make that drastic of a difference. Considering what the cost for Kimbrel may be, Oakland could be hard pressed to have the pieces needed to bring in the Cubs’ closer and upgrade the rest of the roster.

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Craig Kimbrel would certainly be an upgrade to the bullpen. However, given the Oakland A’s additional needs, they should avoid his services.

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