MLB Rumors: Red Sox's competition for Craig Kimbrel down to one team?


Craig Kimbrel is one of the best closers in baseball. But the number of teams willing to pay up for him appears to be dwindling.

The All-Star closer reportedly has lowered his initial demand of a six-year, $100 million contract in free agency. He's still seeking a hefty deal, though, and according to ESPN's Jeff Passan, his high price tag may leave just two teams willing to spend for him: the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies.

From Passan's column Wednesday:

"It's not the White Sox's style to spend big on the bullpen, nor the Angels'. The Twins are seeking one-year deals on back-end-bullpen types, according to sources, and the Rays won't even consider Kimbrel at four years. Atlanta is planning to stick with its plethora of young arms and pursue upgrades at the trade deadline if necessary.

"That leaves the Phillies, and while they sought Edwin Diaz before he went to the Mets and kept in touch with (Zach) Britton, any connection with the Phillies has been more the sentiment of competing officials."

According to Passan, the Red Sox still are taking a wait-and-see approach with Kimbrel, who racked up 108 saves over the last three seasons in Boston. They've reportedly expressed interest in Adam Ottavino as a closer option if Kimbrel doesn't re-sign, and they could explore lower-cost internal options, as well.

That means it may be up to the Phillies to decide if they want to spend big on Kimbrel as their elite closer.

Philly is willing to break the bank this offseason -- it's also in the hunt for free-agent superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper -- and does have history with ex-Red Sox closers. Jonathan Papelbon signed with the Phillies in 2012 after seven seasons in Boston and went on to become the franchise's all-time saves leader despite an acrimonious departure in 2015.

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