Craig Kimbrel Signs 1-Year Contract With Philadelphia Phillies

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The Philadelphia Phillies finalized the signing of Craig Kimbrel to a one-year contract for the 2023 season. Francisco Morales was designated for assignment in order to make room for Kimbrel on the 40-man roster.

The Phillies did not provide financial details of the agreement, but Kimbrel’s contract reportedly is worth $10 million. The right-hander is the active saves leader in MLB history but joins Philadelphia after struggling throughout the 2022 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

After finishing the 2021 campaign with the Chicago White Sox, Kimbrel was traded to the Dodgers for AJ Pollock during Spring Training last year. He was the presumed successor to Kenley Jansen, and although that played out initially, Kimbrel eventually was removed from the closer role.

Kimbrel finished the season 6-7 with a 3.75 ERA, 3.23 FIP and 1.32 WHIP to go along with 22 saves in 27 opportunities. Among qualified Dodgers relief pitchers, only Phil Bickford had a higher ERA (4.72) than Kimbrel. Furthermore, 12 of the 13 pitchers who made the Dodgers’ postseason roster had a lower ERA.

Kimbrel embraced his new role in late September and expressed confidence he would not only return to closing games for the Dodgers but make contributions in the postseason as well. However, the 32-year-old was not among the relief pitchers included on the Dodgers playoff roster for the National League Division Series.

“It was a tough conversation,” manager Dave Roberts remarked prior to Game 1 of the NLDS. “It’s a person and player I have so much respect for. It hasn’t been a consistent year for him. He accepted the role of getting out of the closer’s role as a professional and was hoping and looking forward to an opportunity here in the DS.

“We just have other guys that we felt had been more consistent and that match up with these guys better. Not to say that it can’t change. My expectation, our expectation, is that Craig will be ready. But we wouldn’t be here without him.

“I can’t say enough about the character of Craig Kimbrel because, as a potential Hall of Famer, that’s not an easy conversation. He was very disappointed, as he should be.”

Although Kimbrel is coming off a subpar season with the Dodgers, he presumably has an ally in Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. He oversaw the front office during the same time Kimbrel played for the Boston Red Sox.

Kimbrel also reunites with former Dodgers teammate Trea Turner, who signed with the Phillies this offseason for 11 years and $300 million.

What role will Craig Kimbrel have with Phillies?

Phillies manager Rob Thomson prefers to operate without a set closer and relied on a bevy of options last season. Thomson figures to keep with the same philosophy this year, which likely will amount to Kimbrel sharing save opportunities with Seranthony Domínguez and José Alvarado.

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