Craig Kimbrel's Arrival To Cubs Right Around Corner

"Tuesday is an important checkpoint for him," Theo Epstein says.

Bruce Levine
June 24, 2019 - 7:18 pm
New Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel, center, poses for photos at his introduction with his wife Ashely and their daughter Lydia Joy.

Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images


CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- Closer Craig Kimbrel is in line to join the Cubs perhaps as early as Thursday and, if not, likely by the weekend, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein indicated Monday evening.

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Kimbrel will pitch for the Iowa Cubs on Tuesday, after which a meeting of the minds will take place to determine his next step. If he gets through Tuesday in good shape, a call-up to the big leagues could be on tap.

"He is doing really good and doing a nice job of getting himself ready," Epstein said. "It's not about results or velocity, it is getting in game shape and building that foundation.

"Tuesday is an important checkpoint for him. We will see how he is feeling and get together with him and make a call after that game to see what direction we go."

Kimbrel, 31, signed a three-year, $43-million deal with the Cubs in early June and has been working into game shape ever since. Kimbrel posted a 2.74 ERA and 0.99 WHIP and converted 42 of 47 save chances for the champion Red Sox in 2018. He also struggled in the playoffs with a 5.91 ERA in nine appearances.

"There is certainly a chance that at the end of this homestand or early in the next road trip we will be seeing him," Epstein said. "We want to get through Tuesday and see how he has responded to the back-to-back (last Friday and Saturday). He is such a pro and veteran, he knows himself better than anyone else. We are getting to a point that we have established enough of a foundation there will be an opportunity to take the next step, providing he feels good with everything."

In other news for the Cubs, reliever C.J. Edwards is throwing from 120 feet and is a few days away from throwing a side session as he works back from a left thoracic strain, Epstein said. Edwards needs to throw a couple of side sessions without setbacks, after which a rehab assignment will follow.

Right-hander Kyle Hendricks is also progressing as he deals with an impingement in his throwing shoulder. Hendricks threw 15 light pitches off the mound recently, Epstein said.

"There is certainly a possibility he throws a fuller bullpen later this week," Epstein said. "I know it's been speculated he would return around the All-Star break. That is certainly in play if his progression continues as it has so far."

In Arizona, reliever Brandon Morrow has "felt really good" as he continues to throw side sessions, but the Cubs will "continue to go slow with him," Epstein said. Morrow has been sidelined all season as his recovery and rehab from elbow surgery last November has moved slowly.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.