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Free-agent right-handed reliever Craig Kimbrel and the Baltimore Orioles agreed to a one-year, $13 million deal on Wednesday, according to sources. The contract includes a $13 million club option for the 2025 season. Talks between the two sides began to heat up on Tuesday night, and the O's have now secured the 35-year-old closer at the Winter Meetings. He had a nice 3.26 ERA with 94 strikeouts and 23 saves during the regular season in 2023 for the Philadelphia Phillies. Kimbrel, a nine-time All-Star, has 417 career saves in 14 big-league seasons with seven different teams. With Felix Bautista (elbow) out for all of the 2024 season, it seems likely that Kimbrel is going to serve as Baltimore's primary closer, which will make him a high-end fantasy closing target in spring drafts.
The Baltimore Orioles have been "seriously engaged" with free-agent relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel, MLB Network's Joel Sherman reported Tuesday. The O's will be without their All-Star closer Felix Bautista (elbow) in 2024 while he recovers from Tommy John surgery. While the team does have several late-inning relievers, a player with Kimbrel's career numbers could help shut things down at the end of games. The 35-year-old veteran had a mixed 2023 season with the Phillies, converting 23 of 28 save opportunities in the regular season with a 3.26 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 33.8% strikeout rate. However, he posted a bloated 6.00 ERA in seven postseason appearances.
Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Dillon Tate (forearm) is healthy and has been throwing this offseason, according to general manager Mike Elias. The Orioles are optimistic that they will be getting the pre-injury form of Tate next spring. If all continues to go well with the 29-year-old right-hander's rehab from a right-forearm injury that limited him to just 13 minor-league rehab appearances in 2023, he should be ready to go for the start of the 2024 regular season in the back end of Baltimore's bullpen. A healthy Tate could be quite attractive in fantasy as well in a high-leverage role for the defending American League East champions with closer Felix Bautista (elbow) out for all of 2024. In 73 2/3 relief innings for the O's in 2022, Tate had a solid 3.05 ERA (3.48 FIP) and 0.99 WHIP with a career-high five saves, 16 walks and 60 K's in a career-high 67 outings.
Baltimore Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said that "we're going to take a long look at him in spring" when referring to top shortstop prospect Jackson Holliday. MLB Pipeline's top overall prospect turns 20 years old on Monday but is already getting close to contributing at the major-league level for an Orioles team that won the American League East in 2023. The first overall pick in the 2022 draft hit an impressive .323/.442/.499 with a .941 OPS, 12 home runs, 30 doubles, nine triples, 75 RBI, 24 stolen bases and 113 runs scored in 125 games over four minor-league stops in 2023. He made it all the way up to Triple-A Norfolk, where he played in 18 games. Holliday should already be rostered in all dynasty/keeper leagues and is going to be a popular redraft pick in 2024 as well.
Baltimore Orioles closer Felix Bautista has been named the 2023 Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year. It's a bittersweet honor for Bautista, who wasn't able to finish out the season and needed Tommy John surgery on a partially torn UCL in his right elbow. Injury aside, Bautista was a big reason why the Orioles took home the AL East title in 2023. The 28-year-old Dominican right-hander was dominant out of Baltimore's bullpen with an 8-2 record, 1.48 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 110 strikeouts and 33 saves in 61 innings pitched in just his second major-league season. Bautista has a bright future ahead of him, but he will most likely miss all of the 2024 campaign while he recovers from Tommy John surgery.