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Marlins decline 2021 club option on Brandon Kintzler

Just like numerous other veteran relievers who performed well this season, Kintzler is headed to free agency.

Division Series - Miami Marlins v Atlanta Braves - Game Two Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Disappointed but not surprised: the Marlins have declined Brandon Kintzler’s club option for the 2021 season (first reported by ESPN’s Jesse Rogers). Instead of guaranteeing him a $4 million salary, they are paying a $250,000 buyout and leaving the door open for him to stick around at a lower price.

I analyzed Kintzler’s season here and won’t bother repeating everything. In a nutshell, he was as effective in 2020 as anybody could have realistically hoped, consistently inducing ground balls and stepping up in high-leverage situations. That combined with his lengthy track record and the Marlins’ other bullpen concerns seemingly make him a good fit for them moving forward (even with the expectation that his 2.22 earned run average will regress). But now, he will get the opportunity to shop around for the best value for his services.

Per the Miami Herald, assistant general manager Brian Chattin delivered the news to Kintzler’s agent, Kevin Kohler, explaining that “the uncertainty of the market” led the Fish to decline his option. Ordinarily, that may read like bullshit, but look around the majors—veteran relievers are being treated as frivolous accessories coming off a year of limited MLB revenues. The Indians, for example, placed All-Star Brad Hand on waivers (where no team claimed him), while clear-cut contenders like the Twins and Braves declined options on Sergio Romo and Darren O’Day, respectively.

In recent days, the Marlins have shed a handful of relievers from the organization—Drew Steckenrider, Brian Moran, Mike Morin, Pat Venditte, Josh A. Smith and Johan Quezada—but Kintzler is clearly a tier above the rest. The 40-man roster will be down to 38 players once all of those on the 60-day injured list are officially reinstated.

Craig Mish wonders whether the Marlins want to make a stylistic change in the closer’s role and pursue a veteran who throws harder than Kintzler (and misses more bats). My take? Invest in one of those guys and re-sign Kintzler to stabilize the ‘pen, which was a huge weakness in 2020 (5.50 ERA, 5.65 FIP, 1.55 WHIP), even when accounting for the fact that they were undermanned following the club’s COVID-19 outbreak.

“He’s disappointed,” Kohler says on Kintzler. Can’t blame him one bit.