The Marlins have agreed to a one-year contract with right-hander Brandon Kintzler, ESPN.com’s Jesse Rogers reports. The deal will pay Kintzler $3.25MM in guaranteed money — $3MM in 2020 salary, and a $250K buyout of a $4MM club option for the 2021 season. In the event of a trade before the 2020 season is out, the 2021 club option increases to $5MM with a $500K buyout. Kintzler is represented by Kevin Kohler.
Miami has been linked to the 35-year-old Kintzler for the last few weeks, with MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reporting earlier today that the two sides were “working on a deal.” With Kintzler now in the fold, it would seemingly put an end to the Marlins’ pursuit of Pedro Strop, another former Cubs reliever Miami was also considering as a ninth-inning option.
Now, Kintzler will step back into a closer’s role for the first time since the 2017 season. Kintzler has spent the bulk of his career outside of save situations, though he did total 46 saves with the Twins and Nationals over the 2016-17 seasons. 2018, however, was a rougher ride for Kintzler, who struggled to a 7.00 ERA over 18 innings with the Cubs after the Nationals dealt him at the trade deadline.
After working to “simplify my mechanics” last Spring Training, Kintzler bounced back in impressive fashion, posting a 2.68 ERA, 3.69 K/BB rate, 7.6 K/9, and 54.7% grounder rate over 57 innings out of the Chicago bullpen in 2019. Despite being in the bottom eighth percentile of hard-hit ball rate, opposing batters couldn’t do much with that hard contact, as Kintzler also posted a low exit velocity (19th percentile) and limited batters to a .265 wOBA that was only slightly lower than his .286 xwOBA.
Kintzler brings some closing experience and, with 10 MLB seasons to his name, simply some experience overall to a mostly-young Marlins bullpen. With Kintzler looking like the favorite to handle the ninth inning, Miami can deploy Jose Urena, Ryne Stanek, Drew Steckenrider, or any other potential closer candidates in other high-leverage roles to gauge their readiness for any save situations. Since the Marlins are still rebuilding, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Kintzler shopped at the trade deadline if the right-hander is pitching well, and the extra control offered by the 2021 club option could increase his trade value over pure rental pitchers.