According to a report from Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic, the Washington Nationals are set to re-sign Brandon Kintzler to a two-year deal pending a physical.
Kintzler, 33, came over from the Minnesota Twins in a pre-deadline deal last July, one of three relievers the Nationals acquired after the bullpen faltered early in the year.
Terms of the two-year deal weren’t included in Rosenthal’s initial tweet on the new contract.
Rizzo was asked about the average annual value (AAV) of some of the deals for non-closing relievers this winter, if some of the numbers surprised him, and whether the Nationals were interested in bringing Kintzler back for another run, during an MLB Network Radio interview on Wednesday afternoon.
He chose to tackle the first two of the three parts of the question before commenting on Kintzler.
Rizzo and Co. in the Nationals’ front office were in the market for right-handed relief help this Winter, preferably a set-up-type arm, to go along with Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson at the back end of the bullpen like Kintzler did last season, but relief arms have been signing left and right the last few days and cashing in on the trend toward stacking bullpens around the league.
“We’ve seen this trend the last couple of seasons,” Rizzo said of the numbers being thrown around at the Winter Meetings.
“We’re an industry that we like to follow success and you saw when Dayton [Moore] and the Royals started that monster bullpen, a lot of us followed that suit.
The Nationals have expressed interest in former Cubs right-handed Hector Rondon this week, per source. They aren’t considered favorites to land him, but having Dave Martinez and Henry Blanco on staff helps.— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) December 14, 2017
“So I think that it’s a supply and demand thing, and the demand is high for these high-leverage relievers that can pitch multiple innings and do things, and it’s not enough to have one or two good relievers any more, you’ve got to have three, four, or five, and so I’m not surprised with the market, and it’s something that we have to construct the roster a little bit different than we did say five or eight or ten years ago.”
“Kintzler was great for us,” Rizzo told hosts Jim Bowden, Jim Duquette, and Mike Ferrin, of the sinker-balling righty who put up a 3.46 ERA and a 3.93 FIP over 26 innings in D.C. after he was acquired from Minnesota in late July after saving 28 games for the Twins.
He worked mostly in the seventh inning in Washington, with Madson in the eighth and Doolittle in the ninth after they came over from the Oakland A’s.
“We loved him. He performed extremely well for us on the field, but he was better off the field even than he performed on the field,” Rizzo said.
Multiple sources on Wednesday listed Kintzler as one of several still-unsigned relievers the Nationals were expressing interest in.
Nats looking at pen help. Reed, Kintzler, Cishek are on their radar, among others— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 14, 2017
Ken Rosenthal wrote at The Athletic Wednesday morning that Kintzler and right Juan Nicasio were relievers of interest to the Nationals, while noting that with set-up men like Pat Neshek signing for close to $8-9M per (with the Phillies), Rizzo and Co., didn’t seem, “particularly motivated to move,” just yet.
Nicasio ended up signing a 2-year/$17M deal with the Mariners Wednesday afternoon.
When he met with reporters at the end of Day 3 of the 2017 Winter Meetings, Rizzo was asked if he felt like he’d made progress in the search for relief help.
“We’ve made progress in the fact that we’ve gathered a lot of information and we’ve met with a lot of people about a lot of players,” he said.
“So we made progress in that regard.”
As for his take on the relief market in general, Rizzo deadpanned, “It’s good to be a reliever.”
“It’s good to be a middle reliever,” he added, before restating what he’d said earlier in the day about, “the way the game has kind of transpired the last couple of years with these mega-bullpens and stuff like that.”
“I think you’ve seen a groundswell of relief contracts and the market has grown, and I think they’re being more appreciated and compensated as well.”
Washington Post beat writer Chelsea Janes wrote on Twitter late last night that she’d spoken with, “multiple people familiar with Nationals’ plans,” who said the search had picked up, and the Nationals had, “had serious discussions with multiple right-handed relievers,” and though nothing was finalized, they seemed, “to be making their push this evening.”
Rizzo’d said earlier in the day, however, that he didn’t feel pressure to get something done while everyone was gathered together in Orlando, FL.
“We’ve got some things that we’re working on,” he explained.
“There’s certainly no pressure or indication that something has to be done in the next day or day and a half, but we’re going to take things on our timetable and we’re going to try and do the best thing that we can do for the organization and if it happens today, great, and if it doesn’t and it happens a couple days later, so be it.”
If Rosenthal’s report is accurate, the Nationals have taken a big step towards putting together their own mega-bullpen, reforming the three-headed relief monster they’d assembled at the trade deadline last summer.