Now with June 1st past, and the obligation of giving up a draft pick now gone, it appears the Cubs are very close to acquiring a veteran closer. The deal leaves accomplished starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel alone on the free-agent block. After reporting that the Chicago Cubs were "pushing hard" to sign Kimbrel, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic broke the news that Kimbrel is in the process of finalizing a deal to sign with the team and ending his lengthy offseason. The team has not yet confirmed the signing. Because Kimbrel turned down a one-year, $17.9 million offer from the Red Sox, any other team that signed him would have been required to relinquish at least one draft pick as compensation. In 2018, he was 42-of-47 on save attempts during the regular season, though his ERA went up from 1.43 in 2017 to 2.74.
Since Brandon Morrow suffered an elbow injury midway through last season, the Cubs have piecemealed the back end of their bullpen. It's possible he could return at some point to make Chicago's bullpen even stronger, though Morrow's return is not imminent. He still has to get game ready and prepare to face big league hitters. It is unclear whether he would command that price as an unrestricted free agent.
Kimbrel saved 42 games for the Red Sox previous year, posting a 2.74 ERA while being named an All-Star for the seventh time in eight seasons.
Chicago (33-26) entered Wednesday's action in a tie with the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the NL central.
Kimbrel - who never has had fewer than 31 saves since 2011, his second season - has 333 career saves.