Cincinnati Reds: Craig Kimbrel is not the answer for the bullpen’s struggles

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 27: Closing pitcher Craig Kimbrel #46 of the Boston Red Sox pitches in the ninth inning in Game Four of the 2018 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on October 27, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 27: Closing pitcher Craig Kimbrel #46 of the Boston Red Sox pitches in the ninth inning in Game Four of the 2018 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on October 27, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Settle down everyone. Yes, the Cincinnati Reds’ bullpen has struggled of late, but signing Craig Kimbrel is not the answer.

It’s no secret that the Cincinnati Reds bullpen, while solid at times, it has faltered of late. It’s also no secret that Craig Kimbrel, one of the best relievers in the game, remains a free agent. Does it make sense for the Cincinnati Reds to target Kimbrel to be a difference maker in what is becoming an overused Reds bullpen? Not so fast.

The highs and lows of being a Cincinnati Reds fan have never been more evident than what Reds Country has seen this season. Reds fans have experienced the joys of large offensive outbursts that equate to wins and to large offensive outbursts that eventually turn to losses. Being on the losing end of a no-hitter, losing games in extra innings, and blowing an 8-0 lead are just a few of the realities that fans have seen so far in 2019.

Scrolling through your Twitter feed on any given night is entering in and of itself. A popular tweet that emerged last week was, “Let’s go get Craig Kimbrel”. While I see the merit, it seems like a fool’s errand. But, let’s explore it a bit, shall we?

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  • The Cincinnati Reds bullpen is already moving towards a state of overuse and overexposure. Even the likes of the very steady and reliable Jared Hughes has had periods of inconsistency. Zach Duke has had troubles, but has looked a little more consistent of late.

    The scuttlebutt that emerged following Sunday’s game, in which Raisel Iglesias blamed Reds’ manager David Bell for using him improperly, got a lot of attention. Correct me if I’m wrong, but in Thursday’s win over Oakland, Iggy was not exactly stellar as he allowed the tying run to come to the plate in the ninth inning; an inning that Iglesias started with a 3-0 lead.

    From an article in the LA Times, the Los Angeles Dodgers are said to have interest in Craig Kimbrel. The Dodgers entered play on Friday with a 25-15 record, which is best in the National League. Kenley Jansen, hearing the potential Kimbrel signing, has already done his best imitation of a dog marking its territory, by stating that the ninth inning belongs to him.

    I am not sure the Dodgers front office cares about Jansen’s opinion on the matter, but they are certainly looking to get over the hump of winning a World Series for the first time since 1988. The Dodgers obviously feel that signing Kimbrel would position them to do just that.

    While a first place team, with World Series aspirations, who leads the NL in victories signing an elite closer makes all the sense in the world, does it make sense for last place team with four-straight seasons of 90-plus losses to sign such an elite closer? Doesn’t sound like the right move, does it?

    The Cincinnati Reds certainly could make a statement by signing Craig Kimbrel. Without a doubt, there would be an intimidating presence on the mound that Reds’ fans haven’t seen since the days of Aroldis Chapman. Strategically, it would also block the likes of the Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, and St. Louis Cardinals from grabbing Kimbrel as well. Dare to dream, right?

    While the standings don’t reflect it yet, this 2019 Cincinnati Reds team is the best product since 2013. In spite of not getting a single hit in Oakland on Tuesday, the bats are heating up and will only continue to get better; especially when Scooter Gennett is back with the club.

    The starting pitching is definitely better. The bullpen is becoming overused, and while somewhat of a liability in early May, it could be completely taxed six weeks from now. For all the right reasons, there is and will continue to be a need to upgrade the bullpen.

    To me, this season is not the year to take the “win now” approach. This team should finish above .500, but with such a slow start, I would not expect this to be a playoff team. This season is about getting better, future roster construction, and implementing a new culture.

    Going from a culture of losing to a culture of winning takes time. The 2019 season is not the time to sign an elite reliever, who made $13M in 2018. One would have to figure that even a discounted rate of $9M-$10M is not a fiscally responsible move this season.

    Let’s focus on working with what we have. Until Iglesias gets back on track, there are other closer options such as Amir Garrett or some sort of 2019 version of the Nasty Boys with Iglesias, Garrett, and David HernandezCody Reed is also a guy who looked great in his lone Reds appearance of 2019 during last Saturday’s win against the Giants.

    Next. Reds' offense looks to explode again vs the Giants

    Should these Cincinnati Reds get hot and suddenly find themselves challenging to win the division, then all bets are off. For now though, a move to sign Craig Kimbrel just doesn’t make sense in for a Cincinnati Reds team currently sitting in last place of the NL Central.