With free agency under way, the Minnesota Twins are looking at a possible reunion with former closer Brandon Kintzler.
Unsurprisingly, the Minnesota Twins are interesting in bringing back former closer Brandon Kintzler to the Twin Cities. Since trading the All-Star pitcher prior to the July 31 trade deadline, the Twins have been in need of consistent arms in the back end of the bullpen. Not to mention, a closer for next season.
Of course, Kintzler is in popular demand after two spectacular seasons in the bullpen with Minnesota and the Washington Nationals. With the Twins, he was one of the top closers in the game and with the Nationals, he become a steady setup man for closer Sean Doolittle. Additionally, he’s a great player to have in the clubhouse. One of the big reasons Washington is very interested in resigning him.
All things considered, the Twins bode well in this situation. Kintzler has publicly stated how much he loves Minnesota and he clearly fit in well with the team. In fact, Kintzler assessed being traded away by the Twins with an unique angle, telling the Star Tribune:
"“I love it here, the coaching staff and everyone here,” Kintzler said. “It is what it is. I could always come back here [as a free agent] if it works out.“But I get to go to a first-place team with a chance to go to the playoffs and do some things. That’s what we play for.”"
Basically, the eight-year veteran was already thinking about the long-term prospects of returning to the Twins following the trade to the Nationals. In reality, I’d say that’s a sign he’d prefer to return to this team in 2018.
While his presence would obviously provide a spark to the clubhouse, the Twins first and foremost need his arm late in games. Sure, Kintzler isn’t your prototypical end-of-game reliever, dominating his opposition with high-90s fastballs and a wicked strikeout pitch. But, he’s as reliable as they come. Last season, he was 28 for 32 in save opportunities with a 2.78 ERA for the Twins, enough to garner his first All-Star Game appearance.
In Kintzler, the Twins also know they have someone ready to throw out on the mound in the ninth inning right now. At the moment, Trevor Hildenberger and Alan Busenitz look like potential closing options, along with the likes of John Curtiss and Gabriel Moya. Yet, Minnesota wants to build off of a playoff year and allowing the young players to develop in lesser roles with the team only benefits them next season.
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Furthermore, if any of the promising, young arms prove ready for the closing role, Kintzler is a fantastic setup option and likely, more than willing to do so. One of the greatest things about Kintzler is that he isn’t a selfish, prideful player. I mean, after being traded to the Nationals, he could have argued for his case to be the closer. Instead, he came at it with a mindset of helping the team in whatever role they needed him to fill.
Given the interest he’s receiving from multiple teams, the reliever is going to cash in this offseason after making just under $3 million in 2017. Spoctrac has his value at just over $7 million per year, but that’s a bargain compared to other closing options like Greg Holland and Wade Davis, who are valued at over $13 million per year. In turn, Kintzler is a more likely to fit what the Twins are willing to pay for a potential closer. If the Twins pay up for anyone in free agency, it’s going to be for a starting pitcher as they desperately need another top end arm in the rotation.
Altogether, Kintzler coming back to the Twins just makes perfect sense. He’s been one of the game’s most reliable relievers over the past two seasons and there’s no doubt he fits perfectly with this team. While they’ll have competition for his services over the coming days, maybe weeks, they should do all they can to bring the beloved pitcher back to Minnesota.