MLB Rumors: Is Craig Kimbrel holding up free-agent reliever market?


The Boston Red Sox reportedly checked one item off their to-do list Thursday by agreeing to a contract with free-agent pitcher Nathan Eovaldi.

Their next priority could be free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel, and apparently, the rest of the league's relievers would like them to get on with it.

In an article Tuesday for ESPN, Buster Olney relayed why many agents believe Kimbrel is the "bottleneck" that is holding up the market for other free-agent relievers.

"It behooves the agents and the players and teams to wait for the 'Big Dawg' in each group to set the market price," Olney wrote. " ... Kimbrel was the only reliever extended a $17.9 million qualifying offer, and because he rejected that, he is now set up as the No. 1 option among many, many options in the bullpen market."

As Olney reported last week, Kimbrel reportedly is seeking a six-year contract in free agency. But with other quality relievers like Zach Britton and David Robertson also on the market, that may be easier said than done.

"Some agents say that so far, they sense an aggressiveness among teams in the relief market," Olney wrote. "But between the need for Kimbrel's deal to be settled and the high number of relievers in the market, there could be a long, long wait for deals for some."

With the American League's reigning saves leader, Edwin Diaz, headed to the New York Mets in a recent trade, Kimbrel is the apparent top option on the market. 

Until the Red Sox -- or the several other teams reportedly in the mix for the 30-year-old -- come to terms with him, however, don't expect any other reliever dominos to fall.

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