Why White Sox’ return in a Craig Kimbrel trade is hard to predict

Craig Kimbrel is a trade candidate. Just ask the Chicago White Sox.

“What we have to figure out is whether it makes the most sense to have Craig in a White Sox uniform going forward or is there a better use of that spot — and him, perhaps — via trade,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said in November, during the GM meetings in Southern California. “It didn’t work out the way we wanted last year, so perhaps there is a better use of his skills than how we were doing it. So we have to reconsider his usage with us versus a potential trade.”

For Hahn, open discussions of players as trade chips are wildly rare, indicating that moving on from Kimbrel is more than just a possibility but a likely outcome whenever the lockout ends and the White Sox’ front office can resume its preparations for the 2022 campaign.

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As the general manager mentioned, obviously things did not work out after Kimbrel was acquired at the trade deadline last summer. The transition from an All-Star closer to a setup man did not go well, with the potential future Hall of Famer tagged for a 5.09 ERA in 24 regular-season relief appearances and for three runs over the course of two postseason innings.

Even though the White Sox picked up Kimbrel’s $16 million option for 2022, it’s easy to see…

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