Minnesota Twins: Top 5 closer options for next season

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 18: Brandon Kintzler
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 18: Brandon Kintzler /
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CHICAGO, IL – OCTOBER 18: Wade Davis
CHICAGO, IL – OCTOBER 18: Wade Davis /

3. Brandon Kintzler

A Kintzler return makes a lot of sense for the Twins. Although most see him as a set-up man in a good bullpen, he is more than capable of filling the closer role. He’s definitely not your prototypical closer, but he consistently gets outs and that’s all you can ask for from a closer. In fact, he finished with a 3.03 ERA to go with 29 saves and 10 holds with the Twins and Washington Nationals in 2017.

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While most would like the Twins to get a high-profile closer, there’s a good chance that doesn’t happen considering the high price tag that comes with such a move. Given Minnesota is a small-market team, they are likely to develop a stud closer from within rather than pay the price for a big name in free agency. If they spend top dollars on anyone, it’s likely to be a starter.

So, Kintzler seems like a good bet to return given the reasonable price tag he’ll demand compared to the top arms on the market. Not to mention, he loved his time in MInnesota, so returning is a realistic possibility. In turn, the Twins can develop a closer within the organization, while having a reliable veteran arm to hold down the role in the short-term.

Probability of being Twins closer? 50%

2. Greg Holland

After missing 2016 due to Tommy John surgery, the former Kansas City Royals closer signed with the Colorado Rockies to resume a great pitching career as a closer. He didn’t disappoint as he was tied for second in the MLB in saves with 41. Additionally, he made the 2017 NL All-Star Team.

Unlike Kintzler, Holland is more of a prototypical closer who can dominate opposition with fantastic stuff. Boasting a slider and curveball that generates many swings and misses, he’s able to get a key strikeout at any moment. At the same time, he doesn’t have an overpowering fastball at around 94 MPH, but it’s enough to set up his go-to pitches.

While his ERA was a little high at 3.61 in 2017, he only blew four saves for the Rockies and held batters to a .193 batting average. He only had one rough month in August, but he has a proven track record of success closing games.

With the Twins, he’d give them a closer with high-end stuff the Twins haven’t had in the last couple of seasons. Even so, he’s likely to demand around $10 million a year, so that makes a deal with Minnesota unlikely. But, he definitely has a better chance of being the Twins closer in 2018 than the top option on this list.

Probability of being Twins closer? 10%

1. Wade Davis

Unquestionably, the top closer on the free agent market is Davis, who spent last season with the Chicago Cubs. In 2017, he went 4-2 with a 2.30 ERA and 32 saves in 33 opportunities. The results got him into his third straight All-Star Game after making it the previous two seasons with the Kansas City Royals.

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In his last four seasons, he has ERAs of 1.00, 0.94, 1.87 and 2.30, meaning he’s one of the best at limiting damage. Much of this has to do with having three plus-pitches consisting of a high 90s fastball, cutter and curveball. With that arsenal, he generates lots of swings and misses resulting in a high strikeout rate. With the Cubs, he had 79 strikeouts in 58.2 innings, helping replace strikeout machine and former Chicago closer Aroldis Chapman.

As a result, Davis is arguably the game’s top closer. At the least, he’s in the discussion given how reliable he’s been over the last few seasons.

Of course, that means he’s going to demand a lot on the open market for a bunch of bullpen needy teams. So, look for him to get a contract around $15 million or more a year. Knowing this, he’s a long-shot to become the Twins’ next closer, even though he’s undoubtedly the top option out there for Minnesota.

Probability of being Twins closer? 5%

Next: Starting pitching options for the Minnesota Twins!

When free agency is all set and done, Kintzler looks like the top option to return as Minnesota’s closer. By signing Kintzler, the Twins have a reliable pitcher to throw on the mound at the end of games. At the same time, they can develop their young pitchers in hopes that one develops into one of the game’s top closers.