It raised some eyebrows last week when ESPN's Buster Olney reported that free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel is searching for a six-year contract this offseason.
There's nothing wrong with aiming high, and Kimbrel has been an elite closer. But due to how teams view relievers, Kimbrel's age (30), and perhaps even some signs of shakiness in 2018, he may have significant difficulty landing a deal of that length.
Would it really be irresponsible for a club to make that sort of commitment to Kimbrel? While there is no predicting the future in baseball, we can try to learn from the past by looking at how similar players have performed at the same point in their careers.
Now, as Kimbrel's representatives no doubt would argue, it's difficult to find true comps for him. The right-hander rises above the pack, with his 333 career saves ranking first all-time for a pitcher through his age-30 season (Francisco Rodriguez is second, at 294, but wasn't in the closer role at 30). Beyond the saves, Kimbrel has been dominant. His 211 ERA+, 1.96 FIP, and 41.6 percent strikeout rate all rank first in MLB history (minimum 500 innings), as well as first through any pitcher's age-30 season, since the Deadball Era.