In my 2015 MLB predictions piece, this is what I wrote about relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel:
Craig Kimbrel is great in the ninth inning, but if the Braves aren’t in contention after the All-Star Break he might be pitching elsewhere.
Well, it looks like the Braves won’t be in contention on Opening Day because today they traded Kimbrel along with Melvin Upton, Jr. (formerly known as B.J. Upton) to the San Diego Padres for outfielders Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin and two prospects.
It looks like the Padres want to win now. Kimbrel has led the NL in saves in each of his first four seasons in the big leagues. In all, he has 186 saves under his belt before the age of 27. Kimbrel has yet to reach his prime. The Padres did have a credible closer in Joaquin Benoit, but Kimbrel is out of this world.
As for Upton, he is again reunited with younger brother Justin. The elder Upton has struggled since leaving the Tampa Bay Rays. However, given that the outfield is populated by Matt Kemp, Will Myers and his brother, Upton will be a fourth or fifth outfielder.
I don’t think the Braves get much out of Maybin and Quention. Maybin has a good glove and Quentin has some power, but both have been injured a lot in the past couple of years. Matt Wisler and Jordan Paroubeck might pay dividends for the Braves, but it won’t be this year.
I presume that Jason Grilli, who split 2014 with the Pirates and Angels, will take over the closer’s role. He’s good, but he isn’t in Kimbrel’s class. If the addition of Kimbrel doesn’t seal the NL West for the Padres then nothing will.