The Phillies are willing to spend “stupid money” this season, but Philadelphia can’t afford to make Craig Kimbrel their marquee signing.
Spending a small fortune on someone like Manny Machado or Bryce Harper would be a reasonable use of resources for the Phillies. Unfortunately for fans in Philadelphia, their favorite team may be forced to make Craig Kimbrel their biggest signing of the winter.
According to MLB.com, there’s a growing feeling among baseball executives that the former Red Sox closer will end up in Philadelphia. On the surface, that seems like a logical move for the Phillies. They are a team that wants to contend in 2019 and has a need for a top-flight closer. Kimbrel certainly fits that definition.
Unfortunately, it’s an open secret that Kimbrel wants to sign the biggest contract ever handed to a relief pitcher. He’s looking for a six-year deal that would pay him somewhere around $15 million per season. The Phillies happen to be one of the few teams who can afford to give him that kind of deal.
To put it mildly, that would be a poor use of resources by the team’s front office. Kimbrel would make the Phillies better in 2019, but handing multiyear contracts to relief pitchers is typically a bad investment. It’s an especially bad idea when you’re talking about a 30-year-old closer with a violent pitching motion. Anyone who claims they know how Kimbrel will perform as he ages is kidding themselves.
Even if Kimbrel could provide Philadelphia with multiple years of All-Star level production, he doesn’t fill a role that the Phillies should be spending big to fill. Again, overpaying an infielder like Machado or an outfielder like Harper would be a defensible decision. Those are players who can help the team win games 140+ times per season.
At best, Kimbrel could help a team win an extra four or five games next season. That won’t mean a ton to a team that finished 80-82 last year. Kimbrel might be enough to get the Phillies into WIld Card contention, but he’s not impactful enough to help them become legitimate World Series contenders.
The Phillies front office is desperate to make a splash this winter, but they need to make sure they don’t drown by signing an overpriced veteran like Kimbrel. It’s very possible Philadelphia will need to save some of their cash for next year’s free agent class.