5:59pm: Whether or not there’s ongoing contact, the Braves have yet to make Kimbrel an offer, per MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (via Twitter).
4:10pm: The Braves are “still in” the market for veteran reliever Craig Kimbrel, according to David O’Brien of The Athletic (Twitter link). According to O’Brien’s sources, the race at this point is down to the Braves and Brewers.
Atlanta’s reported interest in their former ninth-inning man has wavered all winter long. The team has made quite clear that it isn’t interested in a lengthy entanglement with the veteran reliever, but has remained engaged in shorter-term scenarios.
Other potential participants in Kimbrel’s market have also remained murky. The Red Sox have all but ruled out a return; the Nationals were briefly rumored to be involved but have said they don’t want to go over the luxury tax line. Otherwise, the Rays are the only team we’ve heard much about; the light-spending org is said to be keeping tabs but obviously hasn’t pushed the market to this point.
Last we heard, just over a week ago, the Braves were not even engaged with Kimbrel’s representatives. Perhaps the team’s ongoing pitching health questions have spurred the front office to reconsider the 30-year-old reliever, who racked up 186 saves and 289 innings of 1.43 ERA pitching in his incredible early-career run in Atlanta.
It’s good news for Kimbrel that there’s finally some added interest. The Brewers have also had injury troubles and are said to be “pretty serious” about getting something done. The question remains whether any of these organizations — or some other one — will feel compelled to offer Kimbrel a significant multi-year pact. At this stage of the offseason, the odds seem stacked against it, but the fact that he has yet to sign could suggest he’s still holding out hope.