TODAY: Discussions are “pretty serious,” per Jon Heyman of MLB Network (via Twitter).
YESTERDAY, 11:26pm: While the two sides have indeed spoken, there’s no agreement close at the time being, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Haudricourt adds that the team’s payroll is already “stretched” after signing Grandal and Moustakas.
Should a deal come to fruition, the signing would seem similar to the team’s previous agreements with Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas in that both landed in Milwaukee on shorter-term deals than anticipated. A match between Kimbrel and the Brewers, at least on paper, has looked plausible the longer his market seemed to stagnate. While the bullpen isn’t necessarily a need for a team that already has Josh Hader, Corey Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress, the latter of that trio is currently battling shoulder weakness, and Kimbrel would obviously deepen any team’s ’pen by pushing out its seventh- or eighth-best relief arm.
Kimbrel, 30, reportedly entered the offseason in search of a record contract that’d promise him six years and a total dollar value in excess of $100MM. Those terms, if indeed accurate, likely scared off a number of suitors early in free agency and led to Kimbrel’s stay on the open market lasting far longer than most would’ve anticipated. Certainly, that type of contract is unattainable for him now, though it’s still possible that Kimbrel could establish some type of record payday for a reliever. Currently, Wade Davis’ $17.33MM annual rate is the highest ever for a bullpen arm, and Kimbrel could still conceivably topple that mark.
That’d be serious money for a typically low-spending Brewers club that is already projected to open the season with a franchise-record $127.5MM payroll. Owner Mark Attanasio, however, has already given president of baseball operations David Stearns the green light to guarantee Grandal an $18.25MM salary on a one-year deal with a mutual option. And, the Brewers have every incentive to increase their spending given their recent NLCS run that provided increased revenue while simultaneously raising expectations surrounding the team.
Milwaukee has already surrendered its third-highest selection in the 2019 draft for signing Grandal, who rejected the Dodgers’ $17.9MM qualifying offer after the season. The Brewers would surrender their next-highest pick in order to sign Kimbrel, who also rejected a qualifying offer. The Brewers, though, are very much in a win-now mode, and their status as a non-luxury-tax-paying recipient of revenue sharing means they face a lower penalty for signing qualified free agents than CBT payors and teams that do not benefit from revenue sharing.