The Marlins landed their veteran closer late Saturday night, agreeing to a one-year deal with free agent right-hander Brandon Kintzler. MLB Network insider Jon Heyman was first to report that the sides were “working on a deal,” while ESPN.com’s Jesse Rogers followed with the financial details:
Reliever Brandon Kintzler is singing with the Marlins: 1 year, $3 million with a $4 mil option for 2021 (or $250k buyout).— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) January 26, 2020
In 2019 for the Cubs, Kintzler posted a 2.68 ERA, 3.56 FIP and 1.04 WHIP in 57.0 IP, contributing 0.9 fWAR. He has earned saves in each of the past four MLB seasons, totaling 49 in his career—the next-closest player on the Marlins 40-man roster is Drew Steckenrider (6 SV). He will celebrate his 36th birthday in August, which would also earn him the distinction of being the oldest player on the roster.
This $3.25 guarantee marks the largest financial commitment that the Marlins have made to any free agent pitcher during their two-plus years under the current ownership group. Kintzler edges out Sergio Romo’s $2.5 million from last offseason, a deal signed at a similar point on the calendar to fill a similar role.
Earlier in the week, the Marlins had been reported as finalists for the services of fellow ex-Cub Pedro Strop. Kintzler was better than Strop across the board in 2019, though their numbers match up very closely if we expand the sample size to the past three seasons:
1st pic: career stats comparison between Marlins RP targets Pedro Strop and Brandon Kintzler; favors Strop— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) January 24, 2020
2nd pic: comparison from 2017-19; practically dead even pic.twitter.com/9JA9K5f6hw
This agreement presumably signals that they’re out of the mix for Strop.
One thing that distinguishes Kintzler from his former teammate, as emphasized earlier this month on Fish Bites Episode 56, is his control. The Nevada native is better than the MLB average at throwing first-pitch strikes and avoiding walks. And despite his advanced age, Kintzler has maintained approximately the same fastball velocity since the beginning of his career.
There will need to be a corresponding roster move for the Fish before Kintzler can be officially announced, as their 40-man is currently full. Expect that to be address between now and Marlins FanFest on Feb. 8.