At long last, the two best free agents on the market have been signed. Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel have a home, and they’re both headed to the National League.
It barely took any time at all for the MLB draft to commence before teams across the country started kicking down the door to sign the two all-star pitchers. For those who have no clue why the draft has anything to do with the signing of these two pitchers, let me give you the basics behind it.
Qualifying Offers, Millions of Dollars, and the MLB draft
Six free agents, including Keuchel and Kimbrel, rejected a $17.9 million one year deal with their old ball clubs back in November. This specific deal is known as a qualifying offer in free agency and has been apart of MLB free agency for 7 years now.
In a nutshell, the qualifying offer is a pre-determined amount of cash that is solely based upon the average salary of the highest paid 125 MLB players. In this specific time, that would be $17.9 million dollars. Ball clubs that want to receive compensatory draft picks for their departing free agents will extend these offers in hopes of snagging a high pick from the team signing their player, if the player declines the QO that is.
Here is the kicker. If you sign any of these QO free agents after the draft, you don’t have to give up a pick. This is exactly why there was such a long amount of time before these two guys got scooped up. No one wants to give up a 3rd rounder to a team just so they can sign someone. Patience is key and in this case in played out for both teams.
The Missing Puzzle Pieces
The Braves have a very interesting ball club and have been considered as one of the better teams in the National League for a couple years now. Their dynamic offense is stacked with veteran sluggers and rookie phenoms, and yet their pitching has been pretty rough this season.
Currently the Braves are 2 games back in their division with a record of 33-29. Pitchers Sean Newcomb, Julio Teheran, and Kevin Gausman have all been struggling in one way or another this season. The addition of Keuchel to this rotation allows the Braves to boost their rotation for at least the latter two-thirds of the season.
It should only be a couple weeks until Keuchel pitches again in the big leagues, but the Braves should be cautious as Dallas might be the missing piece this team needs to make a push to win the NL East.
When it comes to the Cubs and Kimbrel, the three year deal that they extended to him clearly indicated that they wanted him to help bring Chicago another World Series. Kimbrel is a 7-time all-star that has been easily one of the most shutout closers in baseball throughout the decade. The 3-year, $45 million dollar deal makes Kimbrel one of the highest paid relief pitchers in the game. Well deserved if you ask me.
What does this mean for the first place Cubbies? In a few words, I think Kimbrel could be the final piece for this team to start pulling ahead of the Cardinals and Brewers in their insanely stacked division. Being able to have a reliable arm that you know can get you out of a jam in just about any game you throw at him as special. As stacked as the Cubs already are, I think this addition truly sets the Cubs up for all the success they could ask for.
Time will tell to see if the 60 game layoff affected these two new NL studs.