Although Bryce Harper and Manny Machado understandably where the headliners of MLB free agency this past winter, the crop of players on the open market also included notable pitchers Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel.
The quartet was among the players who were hurt by another free agency freeze, and while Harper and Machado eventually signed lucrative contracts, Keuchel and Kimbrel remained available as Spring Training and the 2019 regular season began.
That largely stemmed from both rejecting their respective qualifying offer, which was going to require a signing team to forfeit a draft pick in order to sign either. With the 2019 MLB Draft concluding this week, that no longer was a requisite.
As of Monday morning at 12:01 a.m. ET, teams were free of surrendering draft compensation in order to sign Kimbrel or Keuchel. Two days later, the former Boston Red Sox closer reportedly agreed to a multi-year contract with the Chicago Cubs.
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets were among the teams who were involved in discussions with Kimbrel:
The Dodgers and Mets had also had talks with Craig Kimbrel, among other teams.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) June 6, 2019
The Dodgers previously pursued opportunities to pair Kenley Jansen with a second closer, though the likelihood of signing Kimbrel always seemed remote. One hurdle was his desire to serve as a team’s closer; another being financial and luxury tax threshold implications for the Dodgers.
Furthermore, while Jansen endorsed the possibility of Kimbrel joining the club, he made it clear that it should not come at his expense and lead to a potential role change.
Compared to the Dodgers and Mets, the Cubs faced a much greater needed at closer. That is further evident by the agreement being a multi-year deal.