Cubs free agent acquisition Craig Kimbrel is scheduled to join the Triple-A Iowa Cubs, according to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Since signing with his new club, Kimbrel had been working at the Cubs’ complex in Arizona, but he will now travel to Sacramento for his first game action, which is slated for Tuesday, adds Jordan Bastian of MLB.com.
The 31-year-old Kimbrel, fresh off signing a three-year, $43M contract, has yet to appear in a professional game this season, but that will change this week, with the electric closer set to get some minor league seasoning before he appears out of a major league bullpen. While it doesn’t appear that Kimbrel will be in Chicago by the June 20 mark that was tentatively suggested by ESPN’s Jeff Passan, one would imagine that Kimbrel should be ready for big league competition before too long.
And the reinforcements couldn’t come too early for the Cubs, who have fielded a bullpen that, as a whole, has graded out as roughly average thus far. While the Cubs’ most pressing need might be left-handed relievers, Kimbrel will no doubt strengthen a unit that features just two players sporting a FIP below 4.00. As a team, the Cubs have blown 12 saves in 2019, and while saves are of course a flawed metric, the number is nonetheless indicative of the current unit’s lack of reliability.