Craig Kimbrel

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Report: Phillies will be in mix to sign Kimbrel

Andrew Porter
May 21, 2019 - 9:06 am

The Phillies will be "in the mix" to sign free-agent reliever Craig Kimbrel after June 1st, according to 94WIP's Howard Eskin

"The need help in the bullpen," Eskin told the 94WIP Morning Show on Tuesday. "I understand the Phillies will be in the mix for Craig Kimbrel."

Kimbrel, who will turn 31 on May 28th, is a free-agent after teams balked at his contract requests this offseason. He reportedly began the offseason looking for a deal in excess of $100 million over six years. After a brutal postseason—he posted a 5.91 ERA in nine appearances during the Boston Red Sox World Series run—he wasn’t going to touch that asking price.

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On April 13th, Ken Rosenthal reported that Kimbrel is eyeing a deal that puts him somewhere in the neighborhood of the deals of Wade Davis and Zach Britton. 

Davis, a three-time All-Star, signed a three-year/$52 million deal with the Colorado Rockies ahead of the 2018 season. Britton, long connected to the Phillies, re-signed with the New York Yankees at a three-year/$39 million price this past offseason.

The Phillies have just under $17.5 million until they reach the luxury tax threshold. If Kimbrel were to sign a three-year deal worth $50 million, it would essentially put the Phillies at the threshold. Even if his deal allowed the Phillies to stay just under the threshold, in signing him, the Phillies would have to commit to going over the luxury tax threshold in 2018, because they almost certainly will make a major addition to their starting rotation before the July 31 trade deadline.

The guess here is Kimbrel won’t sign until after the MLB Draft concludes on June 5th. If he signs before then, whichever team signing him would have to surrender draft compensation, because the Red Sox issued a qualifying offer to Kimbrel before he became a free-agent. What exactly that compensation would be would vary based on whether or not the deal exceeds $50 million in total value.

Other than the Phillies, the three teams most connected to Kimbrel have been the Milwaukee Brewers, Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves.

The Phillies have won four straight, improving to 28-19, 2.5 games ahead of the Braves for first place in the NL East. 

94WIP's Tim Kelly also contributed to this story.