FORT MYERS, Fla. - The hot topic around the Red Sox at the start of spring training? The bullpen. The hot topic around the league? Some of the game's premier players remaining on the free agent market.
Craig Kimbrel is a subject of both topics. The 2018 World Series champion has yet to find a team despite unquestionably being one of the top closers - if not the top closer - of the last several years.
No one is more surprised and disappointed by Kimbrel remaining unsigned than Chris Sale. The Red Sox ace spoke on the situation Wednesday at JetBlue Park.
"It's crazy to me," Sale said. "I don't want to get too far into it with the politics of baseball and all that stuff, but [Kimbrel's] as good as it gets. He 100 percent makes any team better that he plays for, right? And it's crazy to think that there really hasn't been a whole lot of traction with him.
"I think, obviously, with half the league just showing up for checks, it doesn't help. Not trying to win, those kinds of things, so obviously your market kind of goes down a little bit. But, I mean, he's earned it, and you'd just like to see better for him because he's put in the time, he's put in the effort, and he's put it on the line. So it's time for someone to do that for him."
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Unless Sale and the Red Sox agree to an extension, the lanky left-hander is set to hit free agency after the 2019 campaign. Sale addressed how he's approaching the situation having witnessed such a slow market this offseason.
"The same way I always have," Sale said. "Teams where they're gonna be, I have people in place with my agent and my agency to take care of that. I've been very lucky throughout my career to never have to worry about that. I got drafted, two and a half years later I signed an extension with Chicago, so I never really had that moment in time where it was an anxiety of free agency or this and that. You know, I've always just kind of been under contract and just gone out there and played. So for me, that's just kind of the same thing I'm gonna do.
"I can't worry about dollars and cents or years and contracts and all that other stuff because I never have. And I think that's helped me be successful. I've never had to worry about the nuts and bolts, I just turn on the car and go. The less I have to worry about all the riff-raff, the better off I am. All of that's going to take care of itself."
Sale made it clear Wednesday that he'd love to stay in Boston, so he once again may be able to avoid the increasingly frustrating free agency process. Judging by his thoughts on the Kimbrel situation, it's likely he'd prefer taking that route.
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