Marlins closer Brandon Kintzler is drawing trade interest, tweets MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, but with Miami still vying for a surprise postseason bid, it’s unlikely that he’ll be moved at this point. More likely candidates to be dealt by the Marlins are lefty Caleb Smith and righty Jose Urena, per Heyman. MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro also lists Urena and Smith as players who “possibly could” be moved, adding outfielder Harold Ramirez to that tier.
The 36-year-old Kintzler is having a fairly typical season: tons of grounders, few strikeouts and very few walks. In 12 1/3 frames with Miami, he’s posted a 2.92 ERA with seven punchouts (5.1 K/9), three walks (2.2 BB/9) and a huge 59.5 percent ground-ball rate. Since establishing himself as a big leaguer back in 2013, Kintzler has only turned in a grounder rate south of 54 percent in one season, when he put up a 49.7 percent mark in 2018. His career 56.3 percent rate is tied for 37th among 499 qualified relievers since his MLB debut.
Kintzler is playing out the 2020 season on a one-year, $3.25MM contract, but that pact contains a reasonable $4MM option for the 2021 season, so he’s not a strict rental. This year’s $3MM base salary — the option has a $250K buyout — is prorated to about $1.08MM, and he’s still owed roughly $452K of that sum over the remaining four weeks.
Urena, meanwhile, has been a rumored trade candidate for a year or so now. He’s yet to pitch in 2020 after being among the team’s 18 players to test positive for the coronavirus, and he didn’t throw especially well in 2019, when he turned in a 5.21 ERA and 4.74 FIP in 84 2/3 frames. Urena, though, has had success as a starter — 3.90 ERA in 343 2/3 innings from 2017-18 — and is controllable through the 2021 season. He’s a non-tender candidate with the Marlins this winter, so perhaps another club could get a month-long look at him for a relatively negligible return.
The 29-year-old Smith is controlled all the way through 2023 and is a more interesting target for pitching-hungry clubs. He’s missed bats in droves since being acquired from the Yankees prior to the 2018 season, fanning 259 hitters in 233 2/3 innings as a Marlin. He’s also been plagued by injuries in that time, though, including a brutal Grade 3 lat strain in 2018 and a hip injury that cost him just shy of a month last year. Smith was placed on the injured list earlier this month after the Marlins’ Covid-19 outbreak and has pitched just three innings so far. He looked rusty, issuing six free passes in that time. Overall, he has a 4.39 ERA and 10.0 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9 in his time with Miami.
Ramirez, 25, has yet to return since the team’s outbreak but posted a solid .276/.312/.416 batting line with 11 homers, 20 doubles and three triples in 446 plate appearances with the Fish a year ago. He’s controlled all the way through the 2025 season, leaving no urgency to move him, but Miami has quite a few corner-outfield alternatives. Corey Dickerson is signed through 2021, while Brian Anderson has proven capable of oscillating between right field and third base. The Marlins have gotten initial looks at Monte Harrison and Jesus Sanchez this year, and they still have Garrett Cooper, Lewis Brinson and Magneuris Sierra in the outfield picture as well.
I know a trade between the marlins and Braves is unlikely here, but I’d love to have smith regardless of the injuries. Wouldn’t mind Urena either but I know that won’t sit well with most Braves fans.
As I predicted, it’s been a wild ride this weekend, and today figures to be intense. Let’s not lose sight that most of these deals have a financial motivation; got a bag full full of “John Anderson for President” buttons? Who do you want? JD? Keirmyer? Cobb? Some real dollars are being lost this year, especially by the big market boys. And they’re not the types to sit on their hands while the money leeks away.