ATLANTA — Is Craig Kimbrel crazy like a fox for seeking the largest 'closer' contract in baseball history, or absurdly chasing a pie-in-the-sky dream with little merit?
It's a fair question to ask, amid reports of the former Braves reliever demanding $100 million in free agency, even though all 30 Major League Baseball clubs have begun Spring Training workouts ... and are seemingly OK with their current bullpen situations.
During his five seasons with the Braves (2010-14), Kimbrel was a roundabout lock for 40-plus saves, 90-plus strikeouts and an ERA below 2.00.
However, covering the previous four years (2015-18), the Alabama native has been very good, but short of an elite-level strata.
Which brings us back to Kimbrel's reported demand of $100 million: Will he even get close to a record-breaking figure, short of signing a 10-year contract?
According to Spotrac.com, which tracks the payrolls of all major sports, only four MLB closers (Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Mark Melancon, Wade Davis) currently have contracts exceeding a total value of $50 million ... and only five closers (the aforementioned quartet, plus Brandon Morrow) actively command an annual salary of at least $10 million.
Earlier in the week, former Reds general manager Jim Bowden (now an MLB insider for The Athletic) reported that Kimbrel's camp would be willing to sit out the entire 2019 season if the 30-year-old reliever didn't cash in with his "perceived value."
But on Saturday, Kimbrel's agent spoke up, saying, "Craig looks forward to signing a new contract in the near future."
By all accounts, the Braves are looking for more bullpen help, but aren't necessarily clamoring for a Kimbrel reunion in Atlanta.
For what it's worth, Arodys Vizcaino (2019 salary: $4.8 million) had a solid campaign as the Braves' closer last year, notching 16 saves, a 2.11 ERA and 1.17 WHIP.
However, nagging injury concerns accounted for him missing a good chunk of action last season, forcing the Atlanta front office to constantly juggle the bullpen lineup.