With a shift to sell-mode approaching the trade deadline, the Minnesota Twins are getting a lot of interest in closer Brandon Kintzler.
With just three wins in their last 10 games, and six losses in their last seven after back-to-back walk-off losses to Oakland, we’ve seen the last of the Minnesota Twins as a playoff contender for 2017. A quick pivot to trade Jaime Garcia after just one start for them proved it, and Jerry Crasnick of ESPN is reporting the Twins are fielding “lots of calls” on reliever Brandon Kintzler.
Kintzler is second in the American League with 28 saves, along with a 2.78 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP and a 2.2 BB/9 rate over 45.1 innings. His strikeout profile is not close to that of a typical closer (5.4 K/9 this year), but a ground ball-heavy tilt to batted balls off him (53.9 percent this year) has allowed him to go 45-for-52 in save opportunities for the Twins over the last two seasons.
The Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox had rumored interest in Kintzler, but Boston’s addition of Addison Reed probably takes them out of the market for relief pitching. Among possible suitors, the Washington Nationals, Colorado Rockies and Tampa Bay Rays make sense along with the Diamondbacks.
MLB Network’s Jon Morosi has quickly pointed toward Washington specifically, with a reference to “ongoing discussions” with the Twins regarding Kintzler.
Kintzler is headed for free agency after the season, so he’s an ideal rental for a contending team. He also probably won’t be primarily closing games for the team that ultimately acquires him, barring something unforeseen. But the heightened market for useful late-inning bullpen arms puts the Twins in line to maximize the return in a trade, and they can always circle back in the winter and re-sign Kintzler if they want to.