Yesterday, the Atlanta Braves parted with yet another one of their everyday players from 2014, trading Evan Gattis to the Astros with James Hoyt for Michael Foltynewicz, Andrew Thurman, and Rio Ruiz. The Braves have now moved Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, and Gattis this offseason, basically solidifying their role as non-contender this season as they look to build toward the opening of their new stadium in 2017.
Yesterday, Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the Brewers were in the market for late inning relief pitching, but not looking to spend big money. However, following the trade of the Gattis, Rosenthal speculated that since the Braves are in a rebuild mode, closer Craig Kimbrel is an unnecessary commmodity. Rosenthal listed the Milwaukee Brewers as a fit for the righty.
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While the Brewers have had a pretty quiet offseason, the addition of Kimbrel would be a HUGE boost to the bullpen, and would almost instantly vault the Brewers back into the NL Central conversation. Kimbrel’s career ERA of 1.43 is the lowest of any reliever with a minimum career 200 innings pitched. He would immediately slot into the closer roll, bumping Jonathon Broxton (who doesn’t seem to have the confidence of many Brewers’ fans) back to a setup role, and strengthen the entire bullpen.
Kimbrel comes with a significant cost, however. He is due $33 mil over the next three seasons, and has a $13 mil team option for 2018 with a $1 mil buyout. With payroll approaching $110 mil, the Brewers are limited in their budget department, and would likely have to shed some payroll in order to clear space for a Kimbrel addition. Gerardo Parra could be an option to be moved.
Beyond the monetary costs also lie the prospect cost of what the Braves could command for four potential years of control of Kimbrel. With no MLB ready prospects beyond Taylor Jungmann (who projects as a mid-rotation starter), the Brewers are very limited at the upper levels of their minor league system, although the Braves took lower level minor leaguers in deal for Upton. No doubt Tyrone Taylor and/or Orlando Arcia would have to be involved.
GM Doug Melvin has a history of big moves late in the offseason, signing Matt Garza in 2014 and Kyle Lohse during Spring Training the year prior. Could Doug be planning another big move for a win-now Brewers team? Our friends over at the Brewer Nation hear that the Brewers may be making a big move soon, and given recent reports, this could be it. Craig Kimbrel’s addition would provide an instant jolt to this team and to the fanbase, would put the Brewers back on the map in the NL Central after being an afterthought this offseason, and could finally get fans 100% behind this team for the 2015 Championship Season.