The Chicago White Sox are expected to pick up the $16 million option on reliever Craig Kimbrel for the 2022 season and attempt to trade him this offseason, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Kimbrel, 33, struggled badly after being acquired by the White Sox from the Cubs at the trade deadline, with a 5.09 ERA (4.56 FIP) and 1.21 WHIP with 36 strikeouts in 23 innings (24 relief appearances) while primarily serving in a setup role for closer Liam Hendriks.
Before being traded, Kimbrel was dominant for the Cubs in 36.2 innings over 39 appearances earlier this season, posting a 0.49 ERA (1.10 FIP) and 0.70 WHIP with 64 strikeouts.
After becoming one of the best relievers in baseball from 2010 to 2018 with the Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres, and Boston Red Sox, Kimbrel had down years for the Cubs in 2019 and 2020, with a 6.00 ERA (6.29 FIP) and 1.52 WHIP in 41 games.
With Kimbrel reportedly expected to be available, it could make sense for the Mets and/or Yankees to inquire about what it might take to trade for him — and whether the White Sox would be willing to eat any of the money remaining on his deal.
For the Mets, Edwin Diaz is entering his final year of arbitration and is expected to make a shade over $10 million this season. Could New York pair him with Kimbrel in an effort to form a super back end of the bullpen?
For the Yanks, Aroldis Chapman is entering the final year of his contract that will pay him $18 million.