CHICAGO (CBS) — In the second crosstown trade of the week, the White Sox are acquiring All-Star Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel in a deal for rookie second baseman Nick Madrigal and righty reliever Codi Heuer.
It’s the second trade between the two teams in as many days, giving the White Sox another elite arm in the bullpen, at the cost of two highly talented young players.READ MORE: Katrina Pierce Charged With Using Names Of Homicide Victims To Collect Tax Refunds And Stimulus Checks, And She Has Gone To Prison Before For Similar Schemes
The White Sox already have an elite closer in Liam Hendriks, but adding to their bullpen was a clear priority for an organization with realistic World Series aspirations this season. Thought to be one of their biggest strengths headed into the season, their bullpen hasn’t lived up to expectations it would be one of the best in MLB in 2021.
Entering Thursday, the White Sox bullpen had a 4.10 ERA, ranked 15th in MLB, according to Fangraphs.
Kimbrel figures to serve as a setup man for Hendriks.
“We viewed Craig as the premier relief pitcher available at this trade deadline, and so we knew the cost would be steep in terms of parting with young talent,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said in a statement. “But we recognize the special opportunity that currently exists and our team, our clubhouse and our fans deserve to know we will do everything we can to reach the postseason and win meaningful games in October.”
Kimbrel, 33, is having his best season in years and was the top reliever on the market. Through 39 appearances, he’s posted a 0.49 ERA (826 ERA+) and a 4.92 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
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He recently made his eighth All-Star Game, and it’s at least conceivable that he’ll receive down-ballot Cy Young Award consideration for the first time since 2017.
Kimbrel has accrued the six-most saves since the last round of expansion, trailing only Joe Nathan, Billy Wagner, Francisco Rodriguez, Trevor Hoffman, and Mariano Rivera. He is signed through 2022.
It’s worth noting that this is the third time in Kimbrel’s career that he’s been traded. In April 2015 he was traded by the Atlanta Braves to the San Diego Padres in a deal that also included B.J. Upton, Cameron Maybin, Carlos Quentin, and Matt Wisler. (The Braves also received a draft pick that later allowed them to select third baseman Austin Riley.) Then, in November of that same year, he was sent to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Logan Allen, Carlos Asuaje, Javy Guerra, and Manuel Margot.
Madrigal, 24, had a strong start to the season for the White Sox before going down for the year with a hamstring injury in June.
The 4th overall pick in the 2018 draft, Madrigal appeared to be playing his best baseball since joining the team last year, both offensively and defensively. He was batting 305/.349./425 on the season, and in the middle of a seven-game hitting streak, and had committed only one error in his past 17 games. He was batting .359/.412/.551 with nine extra-base hits and 10 RBI over his last 21 games.
Heuer, meantime, has struggled this year for the White Sox following a strong showing in 2020.
Heuer, 25, has a 5.12 ERA in 40 appearances, compiling a 1.422 WHIP, with 39 strikeouts and 0 walks in 38 2/3 innings. He was stellar for the White Sox in 2020, with a 1.52 ERA, a 0.887 WHIP, 25 strikeouts, and 9 walks in 23 2/3 innings.
The Cubs will have long-term control over both Heuer and Madrigal, who are not eligible for free agency until 2026 and 2027, respectively.MORE NEWS: Chicago Weather: Weekend Warmup
It’s the second trade between the White Sox and Cubs in recent days, after the Cubs dealt righty reliever Ryan Tepera to the White Sox on Thursday for minor league pitcher Bailey Horn.