The big story for MLB off-seasons the last few years has been a possible owner/GM collusion to drive down the prices of some of the top free agents. Money has still been thrown around but it takes quite awhile for the bank to open up. Chicago ‘benefited’ a few years ago by getting Yu Darvish at a reduced price. (benefited is in quotes because Darvish has been a mixed bag even if it’s at a cheaper price)
After Mr. Ricketts came out and very simply said there was no money to add to a team that fell flat to end the season, the message to the team and fans had to be mixed. There were definitely tons of injuries so a bounce back was fair to expect but Maddon is still a lame duck and nothing was really done to improve a bullpen that the skipper clearly didn’t trust.
Brandon Morrow injured, Carl Edwards Jr. having to change his mechanics, who knows with Tyler Chatwood, management didn’t seem to be sending the message they were all in like the team nad fans were. In an age were power pens have been built by World Series champion after World Series champion to shorten the game Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer seemed to be sending the message to Maddon ‘You figure it out.’Some times it’s better to be lucky than good and Epstein lucked out in a big way when Craig Kimbrel didn’t sign with another team until the draft pick compen
sation tied to him expired. Another round of free agency collusion? Kimbrel is well on his way to a Hall of Fame career as one of the best closers to ever do it, and the Cubs got him.
Reports have surfaced that the third year of the three year 43 million dollar deal scared off some potential suitors because of the second half stats for Kimbrel last year, not to mention how wild he was in the post season. Still he was the closer for a World Series champion and the track record and stuff speak for itself. Kimbrel still had a 2.74 ERA, 42 saves with 96 strikeouts in 62.1 innings last season.The one true weakness the Cubs had was the bull pen and they addressed that in a big way. Morrow is supposed to be back at some point and now will slide in to
the eighth inning to extend the Cubs pen. After fans were scratching their heads a little bit after being told let’s just run this back and see what happens. Chicago didn’t have the farm system to compete with other contenders when it came to the bullpen market, so if this team was serious about competing with a championship then this needed to happen.
This was a necessary move but the front office still gets credit for going after Kimbrel and making it happen. When it’s just money then the decision for a team competing for a World Series should almost be a no brainer, especially at that reduced of a price for a 30-year-old Hall of Fame closer. Was it some form of collusion or luck? Either way it’ll be nice to see 24 in the ninth.