Craig Kimbrel is the best closer in baseball. On the verge of arbitration with the Atlanta Braves, he stands to get paid either way.
The issue is just how much he will get paid, and he and Braves are far apart in their figures. If the case goes to arbitration and Kimbrel wins, the team might be forced to pay Kimbrel $9 million for one season. That is already an insane number, and it would only stand to go up in seasons beyond if he continues to pitch well.
Would that force the Braves to consider trading Kimbrel? That was the question posed by Cee Angi of SB Nation a little while ago, and now Buster Olney of ESPN addressed the possibility. Olney actually suggests that Kimbrel’s number might get as big as $14 million after next season, at which point it would make perfect sense that the team wouldn’t want to dedicate that much payroll to their closer.
The logical question that would follow, though, is this: if the Braves do not want to pay that much for a closer, what team will? It would have to be only the richest teams in baseball, and then the assumption is that said team would be willing to give up value to land Kimbrel and pay that salary.
Listen, this guy is nails, but I’m not sure who makes that trade either. For now the Braves will keep trying to avoid arbitration to keep things from sliding out of their control.