Things are getting critical with the Atlanta Braves and their situation with Craig Kimbrel. The team has yet to make an offer to Kimbrel that he likes enough to skip arbitration for at least one more season. However, the money he is wanting is a little steep for what most teams want to pay for a closer. If he makes it to his arbitration hearing and wins, the Braves could end up paying him $9 million next season, and sources have stated that the number could go up to $14 million after next season.
The Braves are a team that has been comfortable with letting players walk out of town before really opening their wallets, but with Kimbrel under contract, they might have to start shopping the star closer. Not many teams in the league want to pay a closer that much money, but he has clearly established his status as the best closer in the game at 25 years old. He has lead the league or tied for the lead in saves for the past three years, tallying up a total of 139. His 50 saves last season were the most in the NL since 2003 when Eric Gagne had 55.
The best case scenario for the Braves is to immediately put Kimbrel on the trading block if they can’t reach an agreement on a contract before he goes to arbitration. He has earned every penny of what he has made, but the team doesn’t want to get tied up to $9 million and $14 million in 2015 in a closer, which can be a spotty position as a player ages. He has proven that he is worth the money, but financially, the Braves have to make a decision based on their best interest here.
There is a team out there that will pay him that money, and he may even end up with Brian McCann again as a New York Yankee. There’s just no way that the Braves can put that many chips into this hand when they have guys to pay like Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward and Andrelton Simmons.