Dodgers: Why LA Should Look Into Trading for Craig Kimbrel

The day and age of starters going the distance is long gone. It’s become rare to see starting pitchers throw complete games or even make it into the 8th and 9th innings. Bullpens have become more important in today’s game, with teams even shifting to an opener approach quite often. 

The Dodgers are one of those teams who have relied heavily on their bullpen in recent years. However, a vital part of their bullpen may not be with them anymore as closer Kenley Jansen is a free agent. While the team would certainly love to bring him back, there’s no guarantee it will happen. 

Jansen has been the team’s shutdown guy for many years, despite having some bumps in the road. Losing him would hurt, but it wouldn’t destroy the bullpen altogether. They still have Blake Treinen who can close out games or Brusdar Graterol. Los Angeles could even re-sign Corey Knebel or look to sign another closer such as Raisel Iglesias, Kendall Graveman, etc. 

Trade for Kimbrel 

Those options are solid, yet their best one may be available on the trade market. The Chicago White Sox are reportedly open to trading away Kimbrel after picking up his $16 million team option. The Sox acquired him just a couple of short months ago from the Chicago Cubs. He was having his best season to date before the trade posting a 0.49 ERA, 64 strikeouts, 23 saves, and 2.5 WAR. His time on the Southside did not yield similar results as he posted an ugly 5.09 ERA in 24 appearances. 

Part of Kimbrel’s flop was due to misusage by Tony La Russa. Kimbrel is a closer, and a darn good one, yet La Russa only gave him a handful of opportunities in the 9th, instead using him earlier in the game. That didn’t turn out too well. It’s almost a sure-fire win when Kimbrel trots out to take the hill in the 9th and the Dodgers would sure love to have that.

Adding Kimbrel to the LA bullpen would shorten games. Dave Roberts could have him lock down the 9th and free up Blake Treinen to matchup against the toughest parts of the opposing team’s lineup. Sprinkle in guys like Alex Vesia, Graterol, and Phil Bickford and you have yourself a top-notch bullpen. 

Can you just imagine a pen headlined my Kimbrel in the postseason? Add in a more consistent performance from the lineup next season and reclaiming the throne in 2022 isn’t out of the question. If the Dodgers take on the entirety of his contract it shouldn’t take much to acquire him. With a little Andrew Friedman magic, it could wind up as a steal.

Final Thoughts 

Do the Dodgers need Kimbrel? No, they don’t. They have the talent in the pen to get the job done and can look for other options on the free-agent market or even re-sign Jansen. However, if you have the opportunity to add a lockdown closer to the pen why wouldn’t you take it? 

NEXT: Andrew Friedman Speaks On Kenley Jansen’s LA Career, Future in Blue


  1. I’m not sure that trading valuable prospects for a reliever is a good idea. Especially one who didn’t have a great end of the year. When relievers drop off, the cliff is sudden and steep.

  2. No-go. I get this visual of Mary T(H)art doing a really bad suppose taunting, but more so lacking, impression of him

  3. I would go with Treinen as the closer, Graterol and Bickford as the bridge. Vesia hopefully Kahnle and Caleb Ferguson(he’s coming back) as the rest of the pen.

  4. Add to Robin’s 6 — (7) Bruihl was good. Increase him to 50 innnigs. (8) VictorGonzales may come back. (9) Gonsolin if they give him just one role – reliever or starter. (10) Knebel if they can resign him.
    (11) 50 percent chance that Kenley is back (70 innings) (12) Heaney, who won’t survive in the rotation, Dodgers won’t have a 5.00 ERA starter there for long. (13) They might find another Bickford [DFA by another team] or Bruihl [minor leaguer we never heard of]. (14) Scott Alexander might be resigned, maybe. Plenty of relief pitchers, good ones. Fixing the starting rotation is the key, more important than getting Kimbrel.

    1. To Roger M Rosen comment. I forgot about Bruihl and Gonzales. Who knows who the Dodgers will bring up from the minors to shuttle back and forth to LA.

  5. Kimbrel’s poor performance with the White Sox attributed to “misusage”.
    Well Roberts is the Grand Poobah of misusage, so how can this possibly fail?

    1. The Dodgers need to focus on Young and upcoming talent. Kimbrel is worn out. We know Friedman loves to get burned up pitchers off the scrap pile, but your right, Drrrrrrr would go with Kimbrel over more ready and deserving players simply because the BIG TRADE made in the off season occured. And like always he’d be a day late and a buck short in utilizing him. Hey, Bobbyd, what do you think about bringing in Andre Ethier in 23 after Drrrrrrrr chokes again?

      1. Kirk, I would rather have Andre The Giant at the controls before putting up with Dic Roberts much longer. What do you think of Bochy?

      1. Not at all – you want Kimbrel over Kenley? And you’re willing to give up pieces to get him?

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