The Los Angeles Dodgers have been making splashy acquisitions all offseason, but that didn’t stop today. The Dodgers are reportedly acquiring former All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel from the White Sox for outfielder AJ Pollock.
The White Sox always seemed destined to trade Craig Kimbrel after signing both Kendall Graveman and Joe Kelly to back up All-Star closer Liam Hendriks. The right-hander was elite in 2021 with the Chicago Cubs, saving 23 games and registering a 0.49 ERA and 15.7 K/9 in 36.2 innings. However, he struggled after being traded to the White Sox and being put in a set-up role, pitching to a 5.09 ERA with a 14.1 K/9 in 23 innings.
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Los Angeles will obviously hope that being back in a 9th-inning role will help the former All-Star regain his elite stuff. The team was in need of a closer after long-time Dodger Kenley Jansen signed with the Atlanta Braves this offseason. While many people had assumed Blake Treinen would get the role, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had said he preferred using Treinen as a “fireman” to get key outs no matter what inning it was.
The White Sox also felt the need to add an outfielder after Andrew Vaughn hurt himself diving for a ball in spring training. The veteran Pollock will likely now slot in the outfield until Vaughn is healthy and then Chicago could platoon Vaughn, Pollock, and left-handed-hitting Gavin Sheets between OF/DH.
Lastly, while this may seem like not a lot of a return for a pitcher of Kimbrel’s caliber, it’s important to remember that Los Angeles is also agreeing to pay his entire $16 million contract for this season, which was always likely to ensure that the return was less.