Padres trade rumors: Craig Kimbrel a target for San Diego

Craig Kimbrel, Chicago Cubs closer, is a Padres target. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Craig Kimbrel, Chicago Cubs closer, is a Padres target. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

The San Diego Padres front office is just like the rest of us, so when drawing up a list of dream trade candidates Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel was likely pretty high up.

The Padres are right in the thick of the National League playoff race: a few games more than they’d like to be out of first place in their division but probably feeling somewhat safe with a six-game lead over the Reds for the second wild card position.

While the Padres have been pretty good late in ballgames, adding another strong reliever to help shut the door on opponents all the better would be high on quite a few GM’s lists.

The Padres are in pursuit of a Craig Kimbrel trade

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal placed the Padres as among the suitors for Kimbrel in a recent column (via MLBTR).

They already have a closer in Mark Melancon, who has slammed the door shut for 30 saves (converting 88%) this year. He has allowed 10 earned runs (13 overall) in 43 innings.

The bullpen has been good in general too, allowing just 24% of inherited runs to score (35% is league average). Another three relievers who get the bulk of innings maintain ERAs of less than 3 as well. As a whole the Padres’ bullpen has a 3.02 ERA.

A Craig Kimbrel trade would help the Padres — or anyone else who gets him

But who’s going to complain about adding Kimbrel to the mix? That the Padres are interested really isn’t a surprise to anyone. In fact fellow FanSided site Cubbies Crib wrote about the potential of Kimbrel heading to San Diego earlier this month.

Who can blame A.J. Preller for his interest?

Really, just look at these stats!

  • Kimbrel has an astounding 64 strikeouts in 36 innings, good for a 15.71 K/9 (an even more eye-popping 46.7% strikeout rate).
  • Kimbrel’s ERA is 0.49. His FIP? 1.08.
  • Kimbrel’s WHIP is 0.709.
  • Kimbrel has 23 saves in 25 attempts (92% save percentage)

A Craig Kimbrel trade won’t be cheap for Padres

For one, Craig Kimbrel is earning a lot of money, as you might expect. He has a little more than two months remaining on the $16 million he’s owed for 2021. There’s a relatively club-friendly club option for 2022 for another $16 million with a $1 million buyout, per Cot’s Contracts.

However, the deal gets a little more complicated, so best just to quote the rest of it from Cot’s. The 2022 option is guaranteed if Kimbrel has

"110 games finished in 2021-22 combined, including 55 GF in 2021, and"

"2) if Kimbrel does not suffer a non-temporary injury buyout increases by $1M each with 53 GF in 2020, 2021"

Kimbrel had 11 games finished in the covid-shortened 60-game season last year and is at 35 games finished this year.

MLB insider Jon Heyman said that he thinks Kimbrel “should be able to get a ton” in return when speaking on Chicago radio station 670 The Score (h/t Bleacher Nation).

"They should be able to get a ton for him. It’s a real seller’s market. We have many anxious buyers and almost all of them are looking for pitching. So while (Kris) Bryant has been the bigger Cubs player, the bigger Cubs star, Kimbrel particularly with that extra option (team option for 2022). Kimbrel is the one they can get the most for.”"

That could mean multiple top prospects — especially if somehow the Padres worked out a deal to send Eric Hosmer to the Cubs to dump his salary.

Next. 3 dream SP trades for Padres to consider. dark