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White Sox exercise club option on All-Star reliever Craig Kimbrel

by Joe Binder

The White Sox have one of their bullpen arms locked up for 2022 – at least for the time being.

The organization announced on Saturday that they will exercise their $16 million club option on reliever Craig Kimbrel. The decision comes after a rocky second half cast a shadow of doubt over what appeared to be a no-brainer of a move when he was first acquired in July.

Kimbrel, an eight-time All-Star, went 4-5 with a 2.26 ERA (15 ER/59.2 IP), 24 saves, 100 strikeouts (15.08 per 9.0 IP), and a 0.91 WHIP over 63 appearances between both Chicago teams. Over the final two months with the Sox, however, the 33-year-old posted a rather brutal 5.09 ERA (13 ER/23.0 IP), 4.56 FIP, and 1.22 WHIP.

Considering Rick Hahn and Co. gave up Codi Heuer and Nick Madrigal as part of the trade deadline acquisition to land Kimbrel, it shouldn’t be entirely shocking to see them keep their once prized possession in the fold. While he could certainly be given another shot to solidify the back end of the bullpen alongside Liam Hendriks, nobody should consider Kimbrel a lock in the team’s plans by any means. This is where that “at least for the time being” line comes back into play.

With one-year remaining on his contract and an overall dominant track record, Kimbrel has all the characteristics to be an interesting trade piece this offseason. Beat writers such as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, and the Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan have all said recently that they expect the White Sox to try and capitalize on his value – making this scenario a strong likelihood if the right deal presents itself. Which contenders will bite remains to be seen.

In other news, the organization declined their $6-million club option on infielder Cesar Hernandez for 2022 as speculated. There is no buyout, making him a free agent.

The White Sox 40-man roster now sits at 33 following the moves.

We’ll keep you covered all offseason long. Be sure to follow us on social media @SoxOn35th for more updates!

Featured Photo: White Sox/Twitter

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