Report: Cubs ‘Pushing Hard’ for Craig Kimbrel (Updated)

Craig Kimbrel was expected to draw loads of interest once the draft-pick compensation tied to his signing expired. Well, he was free from that burden as of 12:01am ET Monday, and we heard nary a peep for two days. But Ken Rosenthal tweeted Wednesday that the Cubs are “pushing hard” for Kimbrel as one of several teams pursuing the closer.

Though they remained very conservative in free agency due to oft-stated budget constraints, the Cubs have always maintained flexibility for mid-season acquisitions. Add to that the potential for as much as $10 million in prorated salary from Ben Zobrist‘s prolonged absence and there’s more than enough room to sign Kimbrel for at least this season.

The coveted righty had reportedly been asking for around $100 million over five years, but that demand is now believed to be for $39-52 million over three seasons. Whether he’s now willing to do a pillow deal for the remainder of the season isn’t known, but the additional money and obvious need in the bullpen make Kimbrel a no-brainer for the Cubs.

Well, except for the part about him getting a little wild at the end of last season and the whole thing about not facing live competition since then. Even if he’s been working out like a fiend, it’s not as though he’ll just be ready to step right into game action. Still, bringing in one of the best closers of his era would immediately bolster the Cubs’ relief corps and solidify their chances.

Kimbrel’s market should develop quickly at this point, with a signing somewhere likely in the coming days.

Update: According to’s Jon Morosi, the Braves are not among the finalists for their former closer’s services.

Update #2: Morosi told 670 The Score’s McNeil & Parkins Wednesday afternoon that he believes the Cubs are frontrunners for Kimbrel.

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