Why Sitting Out 2019 Would Be a Big Mistake for Craig Kimbrel

Craig Kimbrel still sits as a free agent looking for his next team. Would it be detrimental to his career if he were to sit out 2019?


There were reports that came out midday yesterday that Craig Kimbrel could consider sitting out the 2019 season if he does not receive the contract and monetary value that he believes he deserves.

However, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic later tweeted that Kimbrel’s agent, David Meter, refuted the reports and said that they were “wholly inaccurate”.

That led me to thinking, would it be a smart career move for Kimbrel to follow in the footsteps of top NFL running back, Le’Veon Bell, and sit out a season in hopes for a monstrous deal to arrive in 2020?

I feel like, in regards to the Red Sox, Kimbrel has been the hottest and realistically, the only conversation that is on the forefront of people’s minds up until the start of the regular season. Everything else already seems relatively laid out on the team for the most part. We know who’s playing where and there aren’t too many debates to be had.

But of course, as we know, “What are we going to do to close games!? Matt Barnes! Do you trust Matt Barnes!?”.

That’s a conversation that’s already been dealt with and taken care of. But looking back at these reports, would it be a beneficial move for Kimbrel to skip all of 2019–if that is in fact on the table as an option and you choose to be speculative of Meters claims–in hopes that the following off-season will produce a more lucrative deal to his liking?

We know the stats because, again, we’ve been discussing them essentially all off-season. Quite frankly, I feel as though I could recite them off of the top of my head at this point. Kimbrel is touted as one of the greatest closers of all-time, as he should be. His numbers are immaculate and he’s gone through periods of utter dominance. Should he command the largest deal ever given to a free-agent reliever in MLB history? Absolutely, he should.

At age 30 and following nine seasons of work in major league baseball, Kimbrel’s posted a collective ERA of 1.91 and a WHIP of 0.920. For comparison, Mariano Rivera–the first unanimous decision to the Hall of Fame and also touted as one of the greatest closers of all-time–had an ERA of 2.49 throughout the first nine years of his career.

HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 18: Craig Kimbrel #46 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates defeating the Houston Astros 4-1 in Game Five of the American League Championship Series to advance to the 2018 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 18, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Despite the numbers and the statistics that prove Kimbrel’s worth, it’s become clear that MLB owners aren’t looking to shell out that type of money at this moment. Whether that’s because of the tanking issue that’s rearing it’s ugly head more and more, or just because the MLB is starting to realize how out of hand some of these deals are getting. Whatever the case may be, Kimbrel isn’t being handed the contract that he’s looking for and as we get deeper into Spring Training, it looks as though the possibility of that happening is becoming more and more bleak.

But sitting out an entire season to prove a point in hopes to obtain a major deal following this season? Are you insane?

Kimbrel is to enter his age 30 season and turns 31 years old this May. While there’s still plenty of dominating talent sitting there, the reality is that Kimbrel’s heading into the back end of his career.

After sitting out for a full season at the age of 30, would you expect somebody to then think it’s the right move to give him his perceived worth? No team in their right mind would touch him following a completely absent year at the amount that he’s searching for.

And of course, this comes off of the back of Kimbrel’s agent again refuting these claims that he would sit out and says he looks forward to signing soon. But if he doesn’t get near what he’s looking for, it would be a move that would be majorly detrimental to the future of his career if he boycotted the 2019 season.

There’s still plenty of time for him to prove his worth if he signs a short-term deal now. We have players who are doing just that as Marwin Gonzales just signed with the Twins on a 2-year contract. A couple of seasons ago, Gonzales easily receives a minimum 4-year deal as he sits at 29 years old.

With the way the free agent market is now, it would be asinine for Kimbrel to decide to sit out for the entire year rather than taking a short-term contract that will truthfully, most likely be heavy on the financial side of things. I suspect that Kimbrel ends up signed within the next week and a half or so.