Dodgers Free Agent Rumors: Craig Kimbrel Signing With Phillies

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When the Los Angeles Dodgers failed to re-sign Kenley Jansen in free agency last offseason, they filled their void at closer by acquiring Craig Kimbrel in a trade that sent AJ Pollock to the Chicago White Sox.

Although Kimbrel had endured his share of recent struggles, he is the lone active pitcher with more saves than Jansen. The Dodgers anticipated Kimbrel fortifying the back of their bullpen much like Jansen did when he pitched well.

However, the 34-year-old largely struggled throughout the 2022 season and ultimately was removed from his role as closer.

Kimbrel went into the offseason on a downward trend but has signed a one-year, $10 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan:

Reliever Craig Kimbrel and the Philadelphia Phillies are in agreement on a one-year, $10 million contract, a source familiar with the deal tells ESPN. First with the deal: @Ken_Rosenthal.

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 23, 2022

Among qualified Dodgers relief pitchers, only Phil Bickford had a higher ERA (4.72) than Kimbrel’s 3.75 mark this year. Furthermore, 12 of the 13 pitchers who made the Dodgers’ postseason roster had a lower ERA.

Dustin May (4.50) was the only pitcher with a higher ERA than Kimbrel, which was largely due to a few poor outings after returning from Tommy John Surgery in August.

Kimbrel finished the season 6-7 with 22 saves in 27 opportunities to go along with a 3.23 FIP and 1.32 WHIP. The veteran expressed an understanding with being removed as Dodgers closer and he remained confident in being able to contribute in any role.

That never quite came to be as the Dodgers moved ahead with relying on multiple pitchers to close out games. Manager Dave Roberts explained Kimbrel being left off the playoff roster for the National League Division Series was due to his inconsistency.

“It was a tough conversation,” Roberts said 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.”

Craig Kimbrel reunites with Trea Turner, Dave Dombrowski

In signing with the Phillies, Kimbrel reunites with former Dodgers teammate Trea Turner, and Dave Dombrowski, who was president of baseball operations while the right-hander played for the Boston Red Sox.

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