Baltimore Embraces Craig Kimbrel as the Solution to its Bullpen Woes

Baltimore Oriole fans need a charcuterie board to cleanse their palates of a bitter end to the team’s 101-win season. The franchise’s big splash at the Winter Meetings is . . . Craig Kimbrel? Last seen getting his teeth kicked in by the Arizona Diamondbacks, the former Phillies closer was met with boos when he returned to the mound at Citizens Bank Park. This will be the All-Star closer’s fifth team since turning 30 (he’s now 35). The club feels like it’s treating 2024 as a gap year, but they still need to fill some key positions. Regular closer, Felix Bautista, is likely to miss the upcoming season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, which means Kimbrel’s one-year, $13 million deal is simply a get-me-over. However, when you win 100 games for the first time since 1980, have a litany of yet-to-reach arbitration talent, and a history of spending, fans understandably desire a lot more urgency. Losing innings leader starting pitcher Kyle Gibson to the Cardinals on a one-year, $12 million deal is fine considering. The team showed their ability to succeed recently but needs to do more to compete. An Orioles dynasty is a pipe dream. Please don’t preach patience to Baltimore fans because it’s win now or forever hold a grudge. The Kimbrel signing is whatever from a baseball standpoint. Bullpens conjure closers from spare parts all the time. It’s the principle of the matter, a bad omen, or both. Signing the face of multiple playoff meltdowns can’t be the Orioles’ crown jewel of the hot stove. There’s talent still on the market and plenty of time to make an actual splash or two, so figure it out, Baltimore.