Dodgers fans will laugh at The Athletic's best 'under-the-radar' signing for Phillies

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres
Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

Have words lost meaning!? What does underrated or under-the-radar mean when you think about it in baseball terms? Finding a potential hidden gem with star potential? Adding a sneaky productive player you might've completely forgotten about? Or, maybe, in the loosest terms, acknowledging a move that deserves credit but got overshadowed by more high-profile ones?

Whatever it is, it's certainly not this, which all Los Angeles Dodgers can agree on. The Athletic ran their "Every MLB team’s best under-the-radar offseason move ahead of the 2023 campaign" this week and it had some hits ... and misses.

For starters, Dodgers insider Fabian Ardaya labeled the addition of Noah Syndergaard the best such move for LA. Fifth starter in a stacked rotation making middling money? Yeah, we'd call that relatively under the radar. Truth be told, there weren't many options, because the Dodgers only added Syndergaard, Shelby Miller and JD Martinez as their MLB newcomers.

But things really went off the rails when we got to the blurb about the Philadelphia Phillies. Their "best under-the-radar" move was signing ... Craig Kimbrel? Seems like this was very much above the radar? He reunited with Dave Dombrowski and will be heavily followed in 2023 as he looks to help stablize an always shaky Philly bullpen.

Also, is this even a good move? Sure, it's not crazy to take a risk on someone like Kimbrel, who's one of the best closers in the history of the game, but his past 1.5 seasons have been downright dreadful. Dodgers fans can tell you alllll about it.

Former Dodgers closer Craig Kimbrel regarded as Phillies best under-the-radar move

"Is anything the Phillies did this winter under the radar? Craig Kimbrel is one of the best closers in the sport’s history, and he signed for $10 million — but not as a traditional closer. There is work to do after Kimbrel, 34, stumbled to the end of his time with the Dodgers. Maybe there is nothing left in a storied career. Or, maybe the Phillies can apply some adjustments and deploy him in favorable spots. They’ve made worse bets. "

Matt Gelb of The Athletic

To answer that first question ... yes! We'd say adding Matthew Strahm and Josh Harrison were far more discreet than the Kimbrel signing. Strahm isn't a household name (though he may have found his "stuff") and Harrison is a crafty, versatile 12-year veteran that has played for the Tigers, Nationals, Athletics and White Sox the last four years. Every time you see him on TV, you say to yourself, "Wow, he signed there? Had no idea!"

Kimbrel? He's a larger-than-life figure. His presence on the mound is loud and in-your-face, even when it yields poor results. And speaking of that, Kimbrel has been absolutely bad since the start of 2019, with the cracks beginning to show in the second half of 2018 (which is why the Red Sox let him walk). Outside of his unreal 39-game run with the Cubs in 2021 (0.49 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 64 strikeouts in 36.2 innings), he's pitched to a 4.69 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in 119 innings from 2019-2022.

Despite his counting stats not looking so bad in 2022 with LA (3.75 ERA, 3.23 FIP and 1.32 WHIP), Kimbrel was easily the most frustrating closer/high-leverage arm in the sport last year. He had tremendous difficulty pitching clean innings, he got into far more trouble than someone of his stature should've, and he ranked among the worst in the entire league in average exit velocity, hard hit percentage, barrel percentage, chase rate and walk percentage. There are some peripheral numbers to keep an eye on, but Kimbrel hasn't been his Hall-of-Fame self on a consistent basis since before the 2018 season.

And given how loud of a thud his stint in (and departure from) LA was, it's hard to identify him as "under-the-radar" in any aspect of his game at this point.

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