The Cubs have acquired right-handed reliever Brandon Kintzler from the Nationals in exchange for minor-league right-hander Jhon Romero, as The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Sahadev Sharma first reported Tuesday and the team later announced:
#Cubs close to getting Brandon Kintzler from #Nationals, sources tell me and @sahadevsharma.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 31, 2018
The #Cubs today acquired RHP Brandon Kintzler from the Nationals for minor league RHP Jhon Romero.— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 31, 2018
To make room for Kintzler on the 40-man roster, RHP Justin Hancock has been transferred to the 60-day DL. pic.twitter.com/tb9pB0iO6F
Kintzler, 33, has posted a solid 3.59 ERA and 1.24 WHIP with 31 strikeouts and 13 walks over 42.2 innings this season. The former Twins closer was a valued contributor in the Nationals’ bullpen, but clearly with other late-inning options such as Sean Doolittle, Kelvin Herrera, Ryan Madson, and Shawn Kelley being on the roster, GM Mike Rizzo felt comfortable moving him without really throwing up the white flag and going into “seller” mode.
Kintzler is a bit of a puzzling fit for the Cubs, who already have a shutdown bullpen and weren’t in clear need of an upgrade. But he’ll provide another option in the mid-to-late innings and join a cast of former major-league closers that also includes Justin Wilson and Steve Cishek, plus current (and currently injured) closer Brandon Morrow. Kintzler has a $10 million club option for 2019 — one that now seems likely to be declined by the Cubs — and it converts to a $5 million player option if declined.
The 23-year-old Romero was not ranked as one of the Cubs’ top 30 prospects by MLB Pipeline. In 32 relief appearances this season, the 5-foot-10, 195-pound right-hander has posted a 3.27 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 44 innings.