In another move to shore up the bullpen, the Chicago Cubs have reportedly acquired Brandon Kintzler from the Washington Nationals. A low-risk, prudent move by the front office, the Cubs have added another veteran to a bullpen that, while effective, has relied heavily on a shuttle from Triple-A Iowa.
At 33, the veteran righty comes to the Cubs with previous high-leverage experience, though his 2018 numbers are rather pedestrian. His 3.59 ERA (3.44 FIP) is tolerable, with a below league-average strikeout rate (18 percent), solid walk rate (seven percent) and above average ground ball rate (48 percent). While his ground ball rate is down from career norms, he has limited hard contact this season, surrendering home runs well below league average. This gives the Cubs another veteran reliever that Joe Maddon should be able to utilize appropriately.
Kintzler’s only postseason experience came last season with the Nationals, and his numbers fail to excite. A 5.40 ERA in just three games (all against the Cubs) doesn’t exactly scream high-leverage playoff arm, but a 3.1 inning sample size is hardly enough to dismiss him from the playoff picture.
Owed roughly ~$1.7 million the rest of this season with contract options in 2019, this is yet another move that strengthens pitching depth while keeping the payroll under the luxury tax threshold. And when you consider he saved 17 games for the Minnesota Twins in 2016, it’s clear he has the ability to provide further depth to a bullpen that has been taxed at an inordinate level this season.
In return, the Nationals are receiving Single-A reliever Jhon Romero, a 23-year-old that’s having a decent season with Myrtle Beach. He’s clearly not in the Cubs’ long-term plans and is in fact a low asking price for a veteran piece like Kintzler. The Cubs did quite well with this trade.
The Cubs restraint this deadline — making ancillary improvements rather than a big splash — should be considered a job well done, as they’ve added quality pieces to the major league roster without surrendering any significant pieces in return. No long-term contracts have been taken on and the pieces they added (Jesse Chavez and Cole Hamels) could very well position this roster to make a serious playoff push.
Brandon Kintzler isn’t a sexy move, but he remains an appropriate addition for the playoff push. Welcome to Chicago, Brandon.
Follow Austin Bloomberg on Twitter-Feature Photo Credit: Chicago Tribune