When the 2019 baseball season began, there were a few notable free agents who were still unemployed, including World Series champion Craig Kimbrel. The seven-time All-Star, who leads all active major league pitchers in saves with 332, turned down a one-year, $18 million qualifying offer from the Red Sox in hopes of finding a long-term deal with another team.
No team was willing to offer him a contract, in part because they would have had to give the Red Sox a compensatory draft pick if he was signed before the MLB Draft. Now that the draft is over, teams were free to sign him without giving up a future draft pick.
The Chicago Cubs reportedly offered Kimbrel a 3-year deal worth $43 million to be their closer and help their beleaguered bullpen. Kimbrel will earn $10 million this season and $16 million in 2020 and 2021. The Cubs have a $1 million buyout on a club/vesting option for the fourth year.
The deal will be official once Kimbrel passes a physical and the Cubs expect that he should be ready to pitch by June 20th.
"It's huge for us," Cubs pitcher Jon Lester said. "For [owner] Tom [Ricketts] and [team president] Theo [Epstein] to get this deal done, it's a huge shot in the arm for us."
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