Craig Kimbrel will go down as one of the best closers in the history of baseball. Braves fans will always have a soft spot for Kimbrel. After all, he only came up as a 22-year old with the organization and posted a 0.44 ERA in 21 outings. In his five seasons with the Braves, Kimbrel posted and ERA over two just once (2.10 in 2013). Now, Braves fans have to hope he still has a soft spot for Atlanta this winter.
The Braves freed up a ton of money this offseason, and now it seems like they do not even really need to use it. Sure, they could pay an ace starter, but they have so many young arms that they have the luxury of not having to do that. They have a potential star in Austin Riley who should be ready for Opening Day next season. Assuming they can work something out to bring back Nick Markakis, the Braves have few holes to fill.
If there has been one shaky spot during the Braves resurgence this season it has been the bullpen. Arodys Vizcaino is a solid closer, but could you imagine the Braves bullpen with Kimbrel, allowing Winkler and Vizcaino to shift back an inning? Add this in with the development of AJ Minter, and that Braves bullpen could rival the one that featured Kimbrel alongside Eric O’Flaherty and Jonny Venters in their primes.
Kimbrel is also a fan favorite in Atlanta. The hype train is already real at SunTrust Park, but signing Kimbrel could take it to the next level in terms of fan attendance.
Here is a tweet from when Kimbrel was traded:
I grew up as an Atlanta Braves fan & want to thank the Fans & the @Braves organization for all their support over the years. Thank you.
— Craig Kimbrel (@kimbrel46) April 7, 2015
Perhaps with a new general manager at the helm, Kimbrel could warm up to a reunion. The Braves will have the money. This could be the move that puts them back over the top.