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Report: Nationals unwilling to exceed luxury tax for Kimbrel

Harry How / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The Washington Nationals have interest in adding free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel - but only if the finances line up.

Washington's ownership is thus far unwilling to sign Kimbrel to a contract as it would push the team's payroll above the luxury-tax threshold for a third straight season, sources told Pete Kerzel of MASN.

The Nationals' current payroll sits at $201,473,333, according to Roster Resource. That figure is about $4.5 million below this year's $206-million tax threshold. Adding Kimbrel would send the Nationals well past that mark and potentially leave them with little wiggle room for trade deadline additions.

Washington paid a $2.4-million penalty for exceeding the luxury tax last year. If its 2019 payroll stays below the threshold, the Nationals' tax figure would reset entirely heading into next offseason. Should they surpass the tax threshold for a third consecutive year, ownership would have to pay a 50-percent tax on every subsequent dollar spent, according to Kerzel.

Signing Kimbrel would also force the Nationals to surrender two compensatory draft picks because he rejected a qualifying offer from the Boston Red Sox. Washington already gave up two of its 2019 selections this winter after signing Patrick Corbin, who rejected a qualifying offer from Arizona.

Kimbrel, MLB's active saves leader, would add yet another All-Star arm to the Nationals' potent bullpen and improve their standing in the ultra-competitive NL East. The 30-year-old is said to be asking for a six-year contract in the $100-million range, which would be a record deal for a reliever.

The Atlanta Braves are also thought to have interest in signing Kimbrel, albeit on a shorter-term contract. He's been linked to the Philadelphia Phillies as well, though the extent of their interest after signing Bryce Harper is unclear.

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