Craig Kimbrel had his introductory press conference before Friday’s series opener against the Cardinals. The current active saves leader (333) in MLB reportedly agreed to a three-year deal worth $43 million, with a vesting option for a fourth year.
Although we didn’t get any specific timetable for Kimbrel we can kind of have a good estimate.
Kimbrel’s been staying in shape and throwing, working out in Florida since the offseason.
Kimbrel will throw a bullpen session Saturday at Wrigley Field and will then head to Arizona for extended spring training.
The Cubs will officially option Kimbrel to Triple-A Iowa and although it’s not set in stone it looks like he’ll make his rehab stint there before joining the big league club.
For now patience is key. The Cubs don’t want to rush Kimbrel back and the closer wants to make sure he’s ready by the time he pitches in a MLB game again.
There was speculation before Kimbrel signed that he could be ready within 7-10 days. ESPN’s Jeff Passan said June 20 could be a real possibility.
But even two weeks from now seems like a lofty expectation.
Joe Maddon talked about the process of building up Kimbrel in Arizona and said that a three-week range is probably the most realistic time frame.
So, no specific date, but you should definitely see Kimbrel in the bullpen by the final week of June.
Until then, Pedro Strop and Steve Cishek will continue to share the closer duties. It seems like Maddon and the Cubs don’t want to use Strop on back-to-back days right now, as the righty is coming back from a hamstring strain.
Speaking of Strop, Kimbrel has worn the #46 for his entire MLB career, but he’ll be #24 with the Cubs.
Hey, remember the last surprise free agent signing the Cubs had who also wore the #24?
People forget, the Cubs won the World Series in 2016.