MLB rumors: Craig Kimbrel drawing interest from Nationals, Braves as season nears

Nick Goss

MLB rumors: Craig Kimbrel drawing interest from Nationals, Braves as season nears originally appeared on nbcsportsboston.com

Craig Kimbrel is still unsigned on the MLB's free agent market with spring training well underway for all 30 teams, but there are a few potential landing spots for the 30-year-old relief pitcher ahead of the 2019 season.

The former Boston Red Sox closer is drawing interest from two National League East teams, per The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal.

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But the Nats, according to major-league sources, maintain interest in signing free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel, a move that would cap off their efforts to construct a powerhouse bullpen and further escalate the competition in the NL East.

The Braves also are exploring Kimbrel, who is entering his age 31 season, but reportedly only on a shorter deal. 

The Nationals just lost star outfielder Bryce Harper to the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Braves have yet to make substantial upgrades to their pitching staff after winning the NL East in 2018.

Atlanta's bullpen ranked 10th in the National League in ERA, eighth in strikeouts, seventh in batting average against and allowed the second-most walks last year. Kimbrel would give them a veteran presence at the back end of the bullpen with valuable playoff experience.

Washington's bullpen was fairly average statistically in 2018, too, and certainly could use someone like Kimbrel to close games in what should be a very competitive NL East this season.

The Minnesota Twins are another team to watch in the Kimbrel market as they reportedly have stayed in touch with his agent.

Kimbrel tallied 42 saves with a 2.74 ERA, a 0.99 WHIP and 96 strikeouts over 62 1/3 innings for the World Series champion Red Sox last season.

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