By Jack Ryan
Reliever Craig Kimbrel has agreed to a three-year, $43 million deal with the Chicago Cubs that includes an option for a fourth year.
Outside of the Cubs, nobody won in this transaction.
Kimbrel lost because he sat out nearly 40 percent of the season to get a deal with an average annual value of $14.3 million, a modest bump from the $12.5 million he averaged with the Red Sox the last three years.
By the time spring training started, teams dug in and decided to wait until after the draft when Kimbrel could be signed without forfeiting a draft pick. It was a complete misread of the market.
The Red Sox lost because they were never afforded the opportunity to sign Kimbrel at the same budget rate the Cubs did. They invested their money in other players and ran out of payroll space.
Major League Baseball lost because a seven-time All-Star and Hall of Fame-caliber player sat out three months.
The MLB Players Association also lost for having agreed to a system that deflated the value of free agency by attaching the loss of a draft pick to star players.