Craig Kimbrel burst onto the Major League Baseball scene in 2010 with the Atlanta Braves. In 21 games during his rookie season, Kimbrel was a whopping 4-0 with an 0.44 ERA. Kimbrel instantly put himself on the map, and has been dominant ever since.
After the 2014 season, Craig Kimbrel was traded from the Atlanta Braves to the San Diego Padres. He played the 2015 season, and later that winter was traded to the Red Sox. He was sent over as part of a deal highlighted between him and Red Sox top OF prospect Manuel Margot.
Kimbrel on the Red Sox
Craig Kimbrel has certainly not disappointed so far during his tenure in Boston. In 2016 he put up a 3.40 ERA in 57 games. He had a decent stat line, but he certainly put that behind him. In 2017 Kimbrel really made a statement, declaring himself as the staple in the Boston bullpen.
In 2017 Kimbrel pitched to a tune of a 1.43 ERA to go along with a 5-0 record with 126 strikeouts in 67 games. Not only did he pull away from the rest of the Red Sox bullpen pack, but he established himself as one of, if not the best reliever in all of baseball currently.
Last year Craig Kimbrel led the Red Sox bullpen in ERA and strikeouts. He was .3 innings away from leading the team in innings pitched. These three stats are arguably the most important when it comes to judging the performance of a relief pitcher, and the fact he led the whole bullpen is very telling.
It is tough to say how the Red Sox 2017 season would have ended up if Kimbrel was on the team. It is doubtful that they would have won 93 games, en route to an AL East championship.
What Does the Future Have in Store?
After the 2018 season, Craig Kimbrel hits the free-agent market, an unbelievably stacked class. Kimbrel has already made it clear that he wants to sign an extension to stay in Boston. He wants to finish his career on the Red Sox.
This absolutely has to be a priority for the Red Sox, and should be near the top of their to do list. Craig Kimbrel is not only a bullpen piece that the team wants to keep, he is a bullpen piece that the Red Sox need to keep.
Hopefully Craig Kimbrel is staring down hitters in the 9th, wearing a Red Sox uniform for years to come.