Could the St. Louis Cardinals pursue Craig Kimbrel? A trade would seem unlikely, but they would be smart to check in and see what it would take.
The St. Louis Cardinals have been connected to many of the high profile relievers, such as Joe Kelly, Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin and a plethora of others. But one option that we have hardly explored is the trade market.
And that’s where Craig Kimbrel, the Chicago White Sox right-handed reliever, is available – and he could be an option for the Cardinals.
First, let’s talk about why a match is unlikely. Kimbrel, 33, is scheduled to earn $16 million in 2022 and that amount would eat up much, if not all, of the Cardinals’ remaining payroll (unless they dump some salary in a potential trade). Second, the White Sox are going to want something worthwhile in return – they traded infielder Nick Madrigal and pitcher Codi Heuer for Kimbrel at the trade deadline – and are not going to trade him for peanuts. The Cardinals, under president of baseball operations John Mozeliak, have hardly been willing to part with any of their top prospects in trades.
So a deal is unlikely. But gosh, imagine Kimbrel in St. Louis. He was a Hall of Fame caliber pitcher with the Chicago Cubs, posting a 0.49 ERA in 36.2 innings before being traded, and acquiring him would give the Cardinals an established star in the ninth inning. Sure, he did struggle after being traded to the White Sox, but a lot of that can be traced to manager Tony La Russa shifting him between the eighth and ninth innings.
In St. Louis, that wouldn’t happen. He would be the clear-cut option in the ninth inning and entering a season that is arguably the most important in the last decade, would give their bullpen a boost that would further cement their status among the National League elite.
The odds of a trade happening appear slim. But it wouldn’t be a surprise if the two sides talked and if that’s the case, who knows what could happen. Stranger things have happened.