The chances of free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel returning to the Boston Red Sox were all but extinguished on Monday.
Red Sox chairman Tom Werner delivered the verdict when asked if the team might resign the 30-year-old Kimbrel.
“I think it’s extremely unlikely,” Werner told reporters.
Kimbrel saved 108 games and was an All-Star in each of the past three seasons in Boston.
Overall, he is a seven-time All-Star but the free-agent market hasn’t been booming for his services.
Early in the offseason, there were reports Kimbrel was seeking a deal worth more than $100 million.
As spring training approached, there was a speculation that a short-term deal with the Red Sox might be an option.
Meanwhile, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has expressed that the club doesn’t plan on paying big money for a closer. Werner’s comment on Monday follows the same line of thinking.
Kimbrel has 333 career saves in nine seasons with the Atlanta Braves (2010-14), San Diego Padres (2015) and Red Sox (2016-18).
Sale, Sox in talks
Werner joined WEEI’s Mut and Callahan show on Monday in Fort Myers and said the Red Sox have had contract extension talks with ace Chris Sale.
“We have had private conversations,” Werner said. “The best thing for us is to keep these conversations private. And we have to come to an understanding that is good for both sides. But we’ve had conversations with him. In a perfect world we’d love to have him back. He’s one of the great pitchers in the American League.”
Sale, who will earn $15 million in 2019, is eligible for free agency after the 2019 season.
Werner said the Red Sox have not had conversations with J.D. Martinez, who has an opt-out in his contract at the end of 2019.
“We’d love him to have a year as good as last year and keep going,” Werner added about Martinez.
Sale said in January he was open to a contract extension and would listen if the Red Sox called.
“My phone’s on,” Sale said. “Yeah. If they called, I’d answer.”
Sale pitched just 29 innings during the second half last year because of shoulder inflammation. He spent two stints on the DL.
He recorded a 2.11 ERA, 1.98 FIP and 0.86 WHIP in 27 starts.