A trade with White Sox for Kimbrel makes sense for Padres

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Credit: USA Today Sports

In searching for a closer for the 2022 season, the San Diego Padres may want to consider Craig Kimbrel of the Chicago White Sox. 

The San Diego Padres need a closer next year.

At this point, there is little on the roster or in the free-agent marketplace that looks appealing for a ball club with championship ambitions. However, the Padres want to win a World Series title and will need depth in the bullpen to accomplish that task. Therefore, they need to make some moves.

Mark Melancon will likely refuse his mutual option for the 2022 season at $5 million. The right-handed pitcher led all of baseball in saves last year and will demand a multiple-year deal at a decent rate. Unfortunately, the Padres are attempting to juggle their finances and probably cannot make an investment in the pitcher. As a result, the two sides will likely depart ways.

The Chicago White Sox are also competing for a World Series title. The young franchise is close to accomplishing its goal and paid a hefty price for Craig Kimbrel at the 2021 MLB trade deadline. Highly-regarded second baseman Nick Madrigal and pitcher Codi Heuer were dealt to the Cubs for Kimbrel. The veteran closer struggled with the Sox, recording a 5.09 ERA. The club owns a $16 million option for the pitcher for the 2022 season. An option they are likely to pick up this winter.

With Liam Hendriks entrenched at the closer position, the White Sox possess a luxury with Kimbrel in the pen. Hendriks recorded 38 saves for Chicago last season and will remain as the team’s closer heading into the 2022 season. The Sox traded a popular player in Madrigal and will undoubtedly need results from the deal. Results that they have not gotten yet. Rumors in Chicago say the team will utilize the team option for the 2022 season and explore trading Kimbrel for value.

One year and $16 million for Kimbrel is a hefty contract and a burden that will be tough for the Padres to assume for only prospects. But, what if the team could trade a veteran player with a high salary to even out a potential deal? The White Sox could be influenced to take on some major league-type players as they are a ball club with high aspirations. They do not need players that are a few years away from contributing.

Would a Jurickson Profar and the over $16.5 million owed for two years to the player be of interest to the Sox? How about Ha-Seong Kim? Both of these men will struggle for playing time with the Padres and their solid infield, but maybe they could earn some at-bats with the White Sox? Kim still has some upside to his game and only showed glimpses of his abilities last year with the Padres. Packaging one of these men with a decent prospect could be enough to get a deal done.

Perhaps Wil Myers and his $22.5 million deal for the 2022 season would be of interest to Chicago? Myers could help the team in several different ways, and the Sox would obtain equal value for Kimbrel. The Padres would save some money on this deal and acquire a closer for what will be a crucial year. In addition, there are options in the corner outfield position for the Padres, so the loss of Myers would not be catastrophic heading into the 2022 season.

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Kimbrel is 33 and owns 372 career saves which already puts him 9th all-time in MLB history. Having “The Kraken” at the end of their bullpen would easily vault the Padres’ unit into one of the best relief groups in all of baseball. In 2015, when Kimbrel pitched for the Friars, the closer went 4-2 with a 2.58 ERA and a 1.045 WHIP and recorded 22 saves. He was shipped to Boston in November of 2015 for four prospects (Manuel Margot, Carlos Asuaje, Logan Allen, and Javy Guerra). For the Padres, each young player made it to the major leagues, so they did get a decent return for the All-Star closer.

Craig Kimbrel reportedly called the 2015 season a “frustrating” year with the Padres. A lot of that came from the hype that the team generated before the season. A hype that never amounted to anything but a disappointment. His first taste of San Diego was indeed frustrating, but the Padres are in a much better place now. Adding Kimbrel to the Padres roster would definitely be a step in the right direction.

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