The Cubs’ deadline move is a perfectly appropriate one, and not one that dings a farm system the Cubs are trying to rebuild:
The #Cubs today acquired RHP Brandon Kintzler from the Nationals for minor league RHP Jhon Romero.
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
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 31, 2018
Kintzler, 33, re-signed with the Nationals this past offseason on a complicated deal that pays him $5 million this year, and then comes with a $10 million club option for 2019, or a $5 million player option if the team option is declined, so it was framed as a two-year, $10 million contract … but it wasn’t exactly that. In short, there’s a decent chance Kintzler returns next year for $5 million.
Because of the contract, the return to the Nationals was tempered. Which is lovely for the Cubs. Romero, 23, was putting up great numbers at High-A as a reliever. Maybe he’s a future bullpen arm in the big leagues, but a lot can happen between then and now.
As far as performance goes, Kintzler has long been an extreme contact manager type. He usually sports a mid-3s ERA despite a strikeout rate in the mid-to-high-teens because he doesn’t walk anyone, he doesn’t give up hard contact, and he gets a ton of soft contact. Kintzler is a guy who is a perfectly fine and adequate reliever to add to the Cubs’ bullpen, who deepens and strengthens the bullpen overall with another veteran presence with late-inning experience.
Would you like to see more strikeouts? Of course. But among the rental types that you can acquire for nothing, you’re not going to get a perfect reliever. Kintzler is a very good one that the Cubs already liked (they pursued him in free agency).
On the roster move front, Justin Hancock originally hit the disabled list in late June with shoulder inflammation, so the fact that he’s the guy hitting the 60-day disabled list means he’s definitely going to be out for a while. That’s a bummer. He was touching triple digits at time at AAA, and looked like he could be a big league bullpen piece for the Cubs, but now his season may well be over. (Note: Yu Darvish has already been out for 60 days, so I’m not 100% sure why you wouldn’t just move him to the 60-day DL instead, but again, I suppose you wouldn’t if you also know that Hancock will definitely be out for more than 60 days.)
At present, the Cubs’ bullpen will look something like this:
- Tyler Chatwood
- Jesse Chavez
- Steve Cishek
- Brian Duensing
- Carl Edwards Jr.
- Brandon Kintzler
- Randy Rosario
- Pedro Strop
- Justin Wilson
… except you no doubt notice that’s nine guys. The best guess is that Randy Rosario – who has options left – will be sent to AAA Iowa for now, or it’s possible that Brian Duensing could be DFA’d. We don’t know of any injuries, but obviously someone surprising us with a DL stint is another possibility. I wouldn’t expect Kintzler to arrive until tomorrow at the earliest.