Less than two weeks later, Brandon Kintzler got the opportunity to face the team that dumped him at the Trade Deadline. Unfortunately for Kintzler, he didn’t fare too well – he managed just one out in two appearances, walking four and giving up two hits – but fortunately for the Cubs, they still managed to win both of those games.
The rest of the way, I remain confident that Kintzler will be a valuable piece in the bullpen, especially when you consider that the Cubs had to give up relative bupkis to acquire him. The rumors at the time were that the Nationals considered Kintzler something of a clubhouse snitch and wanted to be rid of him, but there hasn’t been any evidence out there to support that claim (much to the contrary, in fact).
So what’s the real story?
Well, it depends whom you ask. According to a new Ken Rosenthal report, the primary motivation for the deal was more in line with what we speculated at the time: the Nationals simply wanted to save some money, both this year and next year (if Kintzler was going to exercise his $5 million player option).
That may well be the case, though it still seems like the “rat” angle is the one the Nationals are trying to sell.
Per Jon Heyman: “According to people connected to the team, [Nationals GM Mike] Rizzo suggested to at least a couple Nats players he believed the leak to be Kintzler upon explaining the surprise trade to the Cubs for a prospect — while warning them not to repeat this sort of unwanted behavior.”
You are reminded, and Heyman lays out, there is no evidence anywhere that Kintzler actually was an anonymous source for unflattering Nationals reports, and indeed, the ugliest one – a “the clubhouse is a mess” report by Jeff Passan on the eve of the Trade Deadline – absolutely did not come from Kintzler. Not only does he say he doesn’t know and has never communicated with Passan, the writer took the unusual additional and unprompted step of calling Theo Epstein to tell him that Kintzler was not his source.
Without knowing more, it kinda seems like the Nationals had a financial motivation to move Kintzler at a time they were considering a lot of trades, mistakenly believed Kintzler was a rat, and pulled the trigger on a deal that otherwise looked like a borderline gift to the Cubs. Oops.
A week later, they dumped reliever Shawn Kelley for spiking his glove and showing up his manager, had to go out and sign busted Cardinals reliever Greg Holland, and he wound up blowing a game and gifting a win to those very Cubs. Oops again.