MLB Rumors: Craig Kimbrel was close to signing with this AL East team

Justin Leger
NBC Sports Boston
Craig Kimbrel agreed to a deal with the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday, but the ex-Red Sox closer nearly ended up back in the American League East.

MLB Rumors: Craig Kimbrel was close to signing with this AL East team

Craig Kimbrel agreed to a deal with the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday, but the ex-Red Sox closer nearly ended up back in the American League East.

MLB Rumors: Craig Kimbrel was close to signing with this AL East team originally appeared on nbcsportsboston.com

Craig Kimbrel agreed to a deal with the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday, but the ex-Red Sox closer nearly ended up back in the American League East.

The Tampa Bay Rays were the runner-up in the Kimbrel sweepstakes, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. They reportedly offered Kimbrel two deals: one for two years, $31 million and a club option, and another for three years, $39 million.

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Ultimately, Kimbrel ended up in Chicago's North Side on a three-year, $45 million contract with a fourth-year option.

It comes as no surprise Kimbrel was sought after once draft pick compensation no longer was a factor. What is a surprise, however, is the Rays' willingness to shell out the cash for the seven-time All-Star despite having the lowest payroll in all of baseball.

Tampa Bay, which currently sits in second place in the AL East, should be just fine without Kimbrel. The bullpen owns the third-best ERA in the majors with Jose Alvarado, Ryne Stanek, Yonny Chirinos, and ex-Red Sox Jalen Beeks all playing prominent roles in its success.

Although they missed out on Kimbrel, expect the Rays to be buyers once the July 31 trade deadline gets closer.

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