Are White Sox planning to trade Kimbrel?
Less than 24 hours after they were booted out of the American League Division Series in four games by the Astros, the White Sox were the subject of an interesting rumor.
According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the Sox are going to pick up relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel's $16 million option for 2022 and explore trade opportunities.
Expected to share the closer's role with another all-star -- Liam Hendriks -- and help get the White Sox to the World Series after coming over from the Cubs in a July 30 deal, Kimbrel instead spent most of his time pitching in the eighth inning.
It was an awkward fit, and Kimbrel never seemed comfortable while going 2-2 with a 5.09 ERA and 1 save in 24 games. In 39 appearances with the Cubs, the 33-year-old righty was 2-3 with a 0.49 ERA and 23 saves.
After Kimbrel gave up a 3-run homer to Kyle Tucker during Houston's 9-4 win in Game 2 of the ALDS, manager Tony La Russa acknowledged his struggles.
"Ever since he has been in our uniform, it's been an adjustment," La Russa said. "Coming in here in a different role is a heck of an adjustment for the guy. He has Hall of Fame credentials and he is having to pitch the eighth inning. There is a difference with those three outs, it's a heck of a mental adjustment.
"I know he would never make any excuses. That's why I'm just giving my explanation of how hard it is for him."
Given his long run of success, the Sox would likely have multiple teams interested if Kimbrel is indeed shopped around.
No matter what, the trade is shaping up as a major blunder for the White Sox, who sent second baseman Nick Madrigal and reliever Codi Heuer to the Cubs for Kimbrel.
As for other moves in an off-season that could be slow moving as the collective-bargaining agreement expires on Dec. 1, the Sox have obvious needs in right field and at second base.
A day after being eliminated from the playoffs in the opening round for the second straight season, Jose Abreu wasn't too concerned about any potential moves.
"We just need to start next season," the White Sox's first baseman said Wednesday through a translator. "Start from scratch, that's all that we need right now. I can't say what the front office needs to do because that's not my job. Right now I can't say. Just start playing again."
The Sox easily finished first in a weak AL Central, but their overall play started slipping after the all-star break and that carried into the postseason.
While disappointed by the way it ended, Abreu looked more at the bright side.
"I think it was a very good season," said Abreu, who has one more year on his contract at a cost of $18 million. "We tried to manage our expectations day by day, game by game and I think we had a very good season. Of course, the final outcome wasn't the one that we all wanted, but I think we all did our best.
"At the end, we faced a pretty good team with a lot of talent and they just were better than us. But I don't think there is any room to say this was a bad season."
While he's taking a wait-and-see approach to player additions and subtractions during the winter, Abreu does expect La Russa to return for a second year in the White Sox's dugout.
"I didn't have any conversation with him about it, but I'm pretty sure he's going to come back," Abreu said. "He won't leave us alone. He's going to be with us."