The Chicago Cubs' bullpen is about to get a major boost.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday night that closer Craig Kimbrel will be activated before Thursday's game against the Atlanta Braves, according to Patrick Mooney of The Athletic. Right-hander Tony Barnette will be optioned in a corresponding move.
Kimbrel posted a 2.45 ERA in 3 2/3 innings with Triple-A Iowa.
Chicago inked him to a three-year, $43-million pact earlier this month. The seven-time All-Star went unsigned throughout the winter and spring despite being arguably the best reliever available in free agency. However, he found a new home quickly after no longer being tied to draft-pick compensation following the draft.
The 31-year-old joins a Cubs bullpen that's only recorded 18 saves this season while blowing 12. Kimbrel has notched 333 career saves over nine campaigns in the majors with the Braves, Boston Red Sox, and San Diego Padres.
The Cubs (43-37) sit one game ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers for the top spot in the NL Central.