1. Craig Kimbrel
Cellllleeeebrate good times, come on! Last offseason, when Kenley Jansen signed with the Braves due to the Dodgers seemingly dragging their feet on the free agency front, fans were blindsided when Friedman traded outfielder AJ Pollock to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for Craig Kimbrel.
He did it again! The Dodgers wouldn’t miss a beat! Kimbrel’s revival in the first half of 2021 as the Cubs’ closer (0.49 ERA, 1.10 FIP, 0.71 WHIP and 23 saves in 39 games) provided hope for an even better ninth inning option than Jansen.
But it appears the setup man version of Kimbrel with the White Sox (5.09 ERA, 4.56 FIP, 1.22 WHIP in 23 games) was what the Dodgers would get. And never before were Dodgers fans so thrilled when news dropped that the right-hander wouldn’t be on the postseason roster.
Outside of one promising stretch after he changed his walkout music to “Let It Go,” Kimbrel was a liability from start to finish. Most of his outings were the most stressful baseball you’ve ever watched, but his 3.75 ERA, 3.23 FIP and 1.32 WHIP in 63 games wouldn’t exactly paint that picture.
How about some advanced metrics? Kimbrel ranked in the bottom percentiles for Average Exit Velocity, Hard Hit Percentage, Barrel Percentage, Walk Percentage, and Chase Rate. He had a 6-7 record as a closer. Though he only blew or lost eight games for the Dodgers, it seemed like far more because even some of his triumphs felt like failures.
All that for $16 million — the same price as Jansen, who was far better despite his own frustrating shortcomings and led the NL with 41 saves (one shy of Emmanuel Clase’s MLB-leading mark of 42).
Kimbrel wasn’t even asked to join the NLDS roster to be used as a garbage time reliever if the Dodgers needed someone to eat innings in a blowout. That says a lot. And that’s why he certainly won’t be back with the 2023 squad.