Chicago White Sox: 3 key moves to make this offseason

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports /
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Chicago White Sox, Craig Kimbrel
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

Trade Craig Kimbrel

Trading Craig Kimbrel is something that the Chicago White Sox will consider.

After a dominating rebound first half in 2021 with the Chicago Cubs, closer/setup man Craig Kimbrel struggled mightily after being traded to the other side of town at the trade deadline. To say that Kimbrel’s performance was night and day between the Cubs and Sox would be an understatement.

Kimbrel’s Cubs stats in 36.2 innings were a dominating 13 H, 2 ER, and 64 K’s. Compare that to 23.0 IP with the White Sox (13 innings fewer), Kimbrel allowed 18 H, 13 ER, and struck out just 36. Kimbrel is under team control for 2022 as his contract contains a $16 million club option with a $1 million buyout.

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the plan is for the White Sox to pick up Kimbrel’s option and then flip him to another contender during the winter.

If that is indeed the plan, the Sox must make sure they get a solid return. Given the market and importance of closers, they can expect at least a moderate return. It’s a big risk to take on $16 million and risk a small return. Nonetheless, freeing up Kimbrel’s contract while still getting a return for him would be the optimum plan for the Sox.

Unfortunately for the White Sox, Kimbrel seems to excel in the closer’s role instead of as a setup man. With that in mind, it makes more sense to keep Liam Hendricks as the closer and acquire a true setup man (which will also command less than Kimbrel’s $16 million closer salary).