How does the Orioles bullpen look following the signing of Craig Kimbrel?

The Orioles filled a void in the back end of the bullpen by signing Craig Kimbrel. How does the bullpen group look now?

Oct 20, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (31) pitches during the NLCS against the Arizona Diamondbacks
Oct 20, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (31) pitches during the NLCS against the Arizona Diamondbacks / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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After reports surfaced that the Baltimore Orioles were nearing an agreement with Craig Kimbrel on a contract, the team and Kimbrel made it official on Wednesday, agreeing to a one year, $13 million contract.

Kimbrel's contract also contains a $13 million team option for 2025 that has a $1 million buyout. With Félix Bautista down for all of 2024, Kimbrel will become the Orioles' primary closer and also the highest-paid player in the Mike Elias era, passing Kyle Gibson's $10 million salary last season.

With the Orioles bringing in a closer who ranks eighth on the AL/NL save leaderboard with 417, it's a clear upgrade, but how exactly does the depth chart look following the signing?

How does the Orioles depth chart in the bullpen look after signing Craig Kimbrel?

Kimbrel obviously becomes the top guy in the bullpen, 417 saves will do that to a team. The move allows Yennier Cano to remain in a set-up role, with the ability to pick up saves when Kimbrel needs a night off. Danny Coulombe can also remain the top lefty option in the Orioles bullpen, coming in as a fireman of sorts when a specific matchup arises.

Southpaw Cionel Pérez and righty Jacob Webb can stay in the roles they performed best in, that being middle relievers who can get leverage spots every now and then. Mike Baumann, who had a large role in the bullpen picture last season, is a fringe candidate for a spot. Kimbrel may well push him off the roster.

It's hard to imagine Keegan Akin and Bryan Baker having a noteworthy role on this team, even more so after the Kimbrel signing. If the Orioles opt to keep Tyler Wells and DL Hall as relievers, one of them could be going down to the minors as a result of the Kimbrel addition.

The biggest wild card in the Orioles bullpen is Dillon Tate. Someone who didn't pitch all of last season, it's hard to predict what Tate is going to look like. He might have had a role if Kimbrel wasn't signed, but his future now looks cloudier with the addition of another arm. Nick Vespi also seems destined for another year of riding the Norfolk to Baltimore shuttle.

If the Orioles make no further additions to the bullpen, I'd expect the bullpen on opening day to look like this: Kimbrel, Cano, Coulombe, Webb, Pérez, Tate, Hall, Wells. First out is Baumann, with Vespi being the first lefty out of the mix.

No matter what the bullpen looks like when the Orioles break camp in Sarasota, there's no question that the group is much improved now that Kimbrel is aboard. It solidifies the ninth inning, which in turn solidifies the roles of high-leverage relievers like Cano and Coulombe. Is it baseball season yet?

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