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The Chicago White Sox picked up the $16 million option for Craig Kimbrel in 2022, making their intentions this offseason and next year quite clear.
Just by trading for Craig Kimbrel at the deadline (among other moves), the Chicago White Sox made it abundantly clear that they were going in on a big postseason run. Unfortunately, that run was short-lived as the AL Central champs were ousted convincingly in the ALDS by the Astros.
That led to some big questions entering the offseason, one of which concerned what Chicago would do with Kimbrel as his contract included a 2022 club option, but for $16 million.
The White Sox apparently deemed keeping Kimbrel worth the money as, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the club excercised that option on Saturday.
Kimbrel, admittedly, struggled after making the move across Chicago. With the Cubs, he had a sub-1.00 ERA but saw that balloon as he posted a 5.09 ERA with the White Sox over the final two months of the season.
With that said, the reliable 33-year-old right-hander should still be a valuable cog in the bullpen. More importantly, the franchise picking up his option could signal the plans for the offseason.
The White Sox bringing back Craig Kimbrel likely signals an aggressive approach to 2022
Winning the AL Central, barring a massive turnaround from the other four clubs in the division next season, shouldn’t be a concern for Chicago. However, the White Sox have bigger goals than that and retaining Kimbrel could signify an aggressive approach.
This team learned in the ALDS that they need a bit more juice to compete with the best teams in baseball. And with players such as Nick Castellanos and Marcus Semien, among others, expected to be potential free agent targets for the White Sox, they could make a serious run at them if exercising Kimbrel’s option is any indication of what’s to come.
There’s still a lot of offseason left but, all told, bringing Kimbrel back into the fold could just be the start of the noise that the White Sox are planning to make coming into 2022.