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White Sox acquire All-Star reliever Craig Kimbrel from Cubs

by Joe Binder

A major addition is coming to the bullpen in an absolute blockbuster of a deal.

The White Sox have acquired Chicago Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel for second baseman Nick Madrigal and right-handed reliever Codi Heuer. The second Crosstown trade in as many days caps off what turned out to be a very active deadline for Rick Hahn and Co.

Kimbrel, who just turned 33 in May, has been nothing short of dominant for the Cubs this season. The eight-time All-Star is currently 2-3 with an 0.49 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 1.08 FIP, and 15.7 K/9 in 36.2 IP/39 games – as good of a season he’s ever had. The veteran also has 20 games of postseason experience, posting a 3.68 ERA (10 ER/22.0 IP) with 27 strikeouts and seven saves in seven chances. He won a World Series with Boston in 2018.

“We viewed Craig as the premier relief pitcher available at this trade deadline, and so we knew the cost would be steep in terms of parting with young talent,” said Rick Hahn, White Sox senior vice president/general manager. “But we recognize the special opportunity that currently exists and our team, our clubhouse, and our fans deserve to know we will do everything we can to reach the postseason and win meaningful games in October.”

Kimbrel is currently finishing out the year on a $16 million salary, with roughly $5.6 million still owed, and is under team control for next season through a club option at a matching price. Considering what the White Sox gave up, all signs indicate that option will be exercised this offseason. With the trade, the front office managed to beat out multiple big-name suitors which are believed to include the Dodgers, Braves, Rays, and Astros.

As with any major addition, there has to be some sacrifice. Madrigal, who suffered a season-ending hamstring injury, is the main name going back to the North Side. The second baseman slashed .305/.349/.425 (61-for-200) with 10 doubles, four triples, two home runs, 21 RBI, and 30 runs scored over 54 games this season. “Nicky Two Strikes” entered the season rated by both Baseball America and MLB.com as the No. 3 prospect in the Sox system.

A young pitcher who still possesses plenty of upside, Heuer is the other name being sent off to the North Side. He was 4-1 with a 5.12 ERA, 1.422 WHIP, and 3.90 K/W ratio over 38.2 IP/40 games this season. The 25-year-old figured to be a major piece of the bullpen this season, though his consistent struggles have made him anything but a version of his 2020 self.

If you had any doubt about the White Sox going for it prior to today, this move should clear that right up. Kimbrel will now join the likes of Liam Hendriks, old teammate Ryan Tepera, Michael Kopech, Aaron Bummer, and others in the pen – which is now arguably best the American League and all of baseball. The time to win is now, and everybody knows it.

We will update this story if any further details unfold. Stay tuned here and on social media @SoxOn35th!


Featured Photo: Chicago Cubs/Twitter

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Aaron Sapoznik

I’m guessing that there will be more than a few White Sox fans who are not thrilled with this trade. I might even have been one of them. Fortunately, I am also a lifelong Cubs fan so for me it’s a win-win. The White Sox now have a better opportunity to win a World Series title, not only in 2021 but 2022 as well with Craig Kimbrel’s team control. I can also continue rooting for one of my favorite young ‘throwback’ players in MLB on the other side of town. Memo to those disgruntled White Sox fans: Flags fly forever!… Read more »

Dave from VA

WTF was Hahn and Williams thinking? Makes no sense at all, at least this lifelong diehard SOX fan.

patrickrocchio

This is a short sighted trade that likely will haunt the White Sox for many years as Madrigal becomes a perennial all star second baseman for the Cubs. Think Ryne Sandberg or Glenn Beckert. Disappointing. Foolish. Myopic.

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