Craig Kimbrel: Potential Trade Scenarios

Chicago Cubs

Another team that experienced an earlier than expected playoff elimination, not entirely due to bullpen issues, is the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs, along with the Astros, Yankees, and Nationals, are one of the teams that had the most serious discussions with the Padres about not only Craig Kimbrel but several other players as well. The Cubs obviously could use a stronger arm in the backend of the bullpen, and the Padres could use one or several of the Cubs bright, young prospects.

These two teams probably make the best trade partners of any team on this list. The Padres covet a young shortstop and the Cubs have at least four that are either big league ready or right on the cusp. Any trade between these two teams would likely center around one of these shortstops, most likely Starlin Castro or Javier Baez, and could include further moving parts such as a member of the Padres pitching staff, Andrew Cashner or Tyson Ross perhaps, or any other number of Cubs prospects. This trade seems less likely to happen given the high volume of possible moving parts but is still a trade that must be watched closely.

Atlanta Braves

This seems like a bit of a crazy idea, but the Atlanta Braves could be in the market for the return of Craig Kimbrel. The Braves only parted with their homegrown closer as a means to extract themselves from the Melvin Upton contract. With that issue now resolved, the Braves could be willing to bring Kimbrel back home for the Braves potential contending team in 2017, when they open up their new ballpark.

Despite the interest on the Braves end, this is a trade that is extremely unlikely to actually happen. While the Braves do have the strong, young prospects the Padres want, it seems unlikely that they would be willing to part with any amount of talent to acquire Kimbrel this offseason, when contention is still at least a year away. This would be a more likely trade if the Padres choose to hang on to Kimbrel through 2016, and try to trade him away next offseason. For that reason, it is definitely a possibility, but an increasingly unlikely one.

While it is not a sure thing that Craig Kimbrel will even be available this offseason, if he is these are the eight teams that should express the most interest for his services. A pitcher of Kimbrel’s caliber is rare, and all these teams will be jumping at the chance to acquire him. If the Padres are smart they will take the chance to put him on the market and see who bites, and at what price.

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