The Cubs have been connected to another reliever, as they search for a potential replacement for Wade Davis. This time, it’s 33-year-old reliever Brandon Kintzler who had spent the last season and half with Minnesota before being traded to Washington at the deadline last season.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 6, 2017
Not necessarily a household name, Kintzler doesn’t have the pedigree guys like Davis or Aroldis Chapman came to Chicago with. However, that doesn’t make him any less viable of an option at closer.
As William Chase from Cubbies Crib points out in this great article, Kintzler is an excellent strike-thrower, registering the 18th best BB/9 at 2.02%. And while his 4.92 K/9 raises a massive red flag for a closer, he amassed 46 saves over the last two seasons as a closer for Minnesota.
What Kintzler does better than most is forcing hitters into ground balls, forcing 54.9% of the balls hit against him into the ground. Teams rarely square him up, which also led to a low home run/fly ball rate of 8.3%.
So a guy who throws, strikes, induces ground balls, and rarely gets tagged on long balls? Sign me up! The even better news is that Kintzler is projected to be looking for a two-year deal worth about $14 mil per year, per MLB trade rumors. And according to a source, Davis is looking for a deal in the neighborhood of four-years and an average salary of $16 mil per year.
Even if Kintzler doesn’t close, adding a player of his caliber while expensive, would be less of commitment and could be a reliable placeholder until the Cubs feel Dillon Maples is ready to close.
The Cubs need relievers that consistently attack the strike zone, and Kintzler is exactly that. Look for the Cubs to pursue him aggressively once everything is settled with Shohei Ohtani.