Chicago Cubs: Team showing interest in top closer

(Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
(Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs have the second most blown saves in the league this season. The team is reportedly showing strong interest in Craig Kimbrel.

The Chicago Cubs are reportedly showing strong interest in free agent closer, Craig Kimbrel. The former Red Sox reliever has been sticking firm to his asking price which was a three-year deal between $40-$50 million. The asking price and the fact that Kimbrel has a compensatory draft pick associated with him has turned teams away.

The MLB draft begins on Monday evening and Kimbrel’s compensatory pick goes away as early as midnight on Monday morning. Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic is reporting that Ben Zobrist’s absence is the primary reason that the Cubs have the financial flexibility to be able to sign Kimbrel.

Zobrist, who has been on the restricted list dealing with a personal matter, does not get paid while being on an excused absence. This tells me that Zobrist may not be back this season if the Cubs are willing to reallocate his salary to another need.

The Cubs have struggled as of late dropping 10 of their last 16 games. They remain in first place but largely in part because the rest of the National League Central division has been mediocre during that span as well. The bullpen, which was downright awful the first week of the season, appeared to have corrected itself.

However, since Pedro Strop landed on the injured list back on May 6, the bullpen has converted just 6-of-13 save opportunities and are second in baseball with 11 blown saves. The front office did very little to improve the bullpen this past offseason with the only notable signing being free agent Brad Brach.

The Cubs were largely banking on the return of Brandon Morrow but he has experienced reoccurring issues that shutdown his 2018 season. There is no timetable for his return and without Strop, the Cubs have been using a closer-by-comittee situation. As most expected, it’s not working out.

The team will be getting Strop back soon as he has recently completed a couple of clean rehab appearances but he alone will not solve the bullpen issues. Strop has arguably been the Cubs best reliever since he was acquired in the trade with Baltimore Orioles’ teammate Jake Arrieta back in 2013. However, he has been great as an 8th inning setup man, not a closer.

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The team needs to be aggressive with Kimbrel because there will be 29 other teams who can sign him on Monday without losing a draft pick. If the team can somehow bring in the seven-time All-Star, have a healthy Pedro Strop and potentially get Brandon Morrow back, the bullpen all of sudden looks like a strength down the home stretch.