The Baltimore Orioles have reached a deal with free agent reliever Craig Kimbrel, the team announced Wednesday. Kimbrel, who's going into his age-36 season, is coming off a 2023 campaign for the Phillies in which he pitched to a 3.26 ERA and 3.36 K/BB ratio in 69 innings while picking up 23 saves in 28 opportunities. Kimbrel's deal with the Orioles will pay him $13 million for 2024 with an option for 2025.
The O's, reigning AL East champions, were in need of another high-leverage option in the bullpen because lockdown closer Félix Bautista will likely miss the entire 2024 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in October. Kimbrel is set to enter 2024 as Baltimore's closer, per Rosenthal.
Kimbrel also earned an All-Star nod for the ninth time in his career in 2023, but in the postseason he struggled badly during the Phillies' NLCS elimination at the hands of the Diamondbacks.
Speaking of his career, Kimbrel owns a sparkling ERA+ of 171 across parts of 14 big-league seasons. He'll enter 2024 with 417 career saves, which places him eighth on the all-time list. Occasional control problems have undermined Kimbrel at times during his ongoing decline phase, but he's still capable of high strikeout totals and keeping runs off the board.