The Chicago Cubs have a brand new closer in Craig Kimbrel. The problem is that they are not going to be able to use him right away. The closer, who last pitched for the Boston Redsox has been sitting out, waiting for a team to agree to his terms since last fall. Because it took so long for someone to sign him to a contract, there are some obvious concerns about him being ready to go and pitch in the big leagues.

Manager Joe Maddon and the front office know they are not in a situation where they can simply pop him into the back of the bullpen tomorrow and expect him to be able to do what they need him to do.

That's why the team has said it will likely be about three weeks before he's ready to pitch in Wrigley.

Cautious optimism

"I would imagine in the position that's he's been in, he had some kind of a strategy of program mapped out," Maddon told the collected media shortly after reports that Kimbrel was a member of the Chicago Cubs began. "The first thing you do is find out and then set up the program. You think about a three-week window, normally it sounds right."

Maddon pointed to how pitchers get ready for the regular season in Spring Training. It appears the team is going to be treating the next few weeks as a kind of spring training in June. Maddon added that the only way the team would know for sure is by talking to Kimbrel and getting his feel for where he's at.

The Chicago Cubs hoping that the closer would be ready by the end of June is optimistic to be sure. The team has a little bit of leeway because they just got their stand-in closer back from injury. Strop has had to step up into that role since Brandon Morrow went down. That experience allows the team to take more time with Kimbrel.

Shoring up the back end

The Chicago Cubs know that they have landed one of the top free-agent targets of last year's class and they also know their investment is more than this season. Kimbrel reportedly turned down a $17.9 million qualifying offer from the Redsox this fall.

That would have been a one year deal to stay in Boston.

Now he'll be sticking with the Cubs for three seasons. Unlike Brandon Morrow, he's not a closer who has a history of injury problems. That could mean the team is set for the next few seasons at the position.

Certainly, if he can continue to pitch the way he has over his last nine seasons, he could be among the best closers in the game for Chicago. Over his career, he's posted a minuscule 1.91 ERA and gotten 333 saves. His earned run average went up a bit last season, as he posted a 2.74 ERA but he did still get 42 saves.

The Chicago Cubs would absolutely take that kind of production from Craig Kimbrel this season. Now they just need to make sure that he's good to go and ready to pitch.