Atlanta Braves Should Look to Trade Closer Craig Kimbrel

Craig Kimbrel Atlanta Braves

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Next Monday, the Atlanta Braves and their star closer Craig Kimbrel will head to arbitration to decide what Kimbrel’s salary will be for the 2014 season. Kimbrel is asking for $9 million, and the Braves have countered with an offer of just over $6.5 million. While $2.5 million may not seem like a lot more for a team to pay one of their best players, especially considering their total roster payroll is nearly $100 million, there is much more to it than just the $2.5 million.

If the arbitrator rules in favor of Kimbrel, it will strongly effect his free agent contract for next season. His 2014 salary will be the baseline for the free agent contract of Kimbrel that will begin in the 2015 season. If he wins the case and has another incredible season in 2014, his salary will get completely out of hand, making it hard to say he is worth the money.

Kimbrel is almost unarguably the best closer in the game. He has been almost un-hittable since he first pitched out of the Braves’ bullpen at the end of the 2010 season. He took over the closer role in 2011 and never looked back. Kimbrel’s career numbers are almost unheard of. In 227.1 innings pitched, Kimbrel has an incredible 15.1 strikeouts per nine innings, a minuscule 1.39 ERA and has 139 career saves. At only 25-years-old, if Kimbrel continues to dominate like this he will likely someday break Mariano Rivera‘s save record of 652 and become the greatest relief pitcher of all time.

Obviously there is a long ways to go before we start talking about that, but for now Kimbrel and the Braves wait to hear his salary for 2014. He will undoubtedly be incredible this season, but if the arbitrator gives Kimbrel his $9 million I think the Braves need to check the trade market.

The bullpen is, without a doubt, the easiest part of a baseball team to build. If he continues this pace and gets his $9 million, Kimbrel will likely command a salary of over $20 million in the near future. I do not believe that any pitcher out of the bullpen deserves that kind of money. Kimbrel has never pitched more than 77 innings in a season. A team’s closer simply does not see the field enough to command such huge percentage of their payroll.

The Braves would be smart to move on and capitalize on Kimbrel’s value while they can. He has been such a dominant player that I am sure they could get a very good return in exchange for him. The closer position is overrated and easily replaceable. Kimbrel may be the best, but he is definitely overvalued.

Daniel is a writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @D_Schmelzer, “Like” his Page on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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  • Jax House

    I have to disagree with trading Kimbrel. Braves minor leagues is already stocked. All the Braves position players are in their early to mid 20s besides Dan Uggla, so there are no positions on the field to fill.

    A Kimbrel type closer comes along once every 5 to 10 years for ANY organization. You dont trade a guy that good when you dont have a pressing need. Only way I would even think about trading Kimbrel is for a bonafide #1 starter. Not a fringe #1 or guy projected to be good, but a guy who is already a true #1.

    If you get rid of Kimbrel you still would have to sign a closer. How much difference would be in the amount you sign a good closer for and the amount we could lock up Kimbrel for? Probably not much.

    Kimbrel is a keeper. Resign Kimbrel with the money we will have from letting Uggla walk (or trade Uggla). We can get by with mid level or defensive 2nd baseman for couple years.

  • ShitIconSays

    The closer position is overrated?!

  • Guest

    The article said Kimbrell is overrated, not the closer position. I agree. He’ll be gone once he becomes a free agent in 2015 anyway. Better to trade him now while he still has value and before he sustains his first serious injury.

  • Guest

    The article said Kimbrell is overrated, not the closer position. I
    agree. He’ll be gone once he becomes a free agent in 2015 anyway. Better
    to trade him now while he still has value, because if he gets hurt in 2014, the trade opportunities won’t be nearly as lucrative.

  • b1blancer

    I agree with the article. He’ll be gone once he becomes a free agent in 2015 anyway. Better

    to trade him now while he still has value, because if he gets hurt in
    2014, the trade opportunities won’t be nearly as lucrative.

  • The YetAAAAAAAAAY

    Kimbrel inks a 4 year deal……dont think he’s gonna be traded LOL