Chicago Cubs: No. 50: Brandon Kintzler
Brandon Kintzler started his career by finding success out of the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen between 2010 and 2015. In 2016, he went to the Minnesota Twins and became their closer, posting 45 saves in less than two years before being traded to the Washington Nationals. In Washington, Kintzler went back to being a setup man and did a decent job for them.
The Chicago Cubs traded for Kintzler in the middle of the 2018 season, and things did not go well for him in Chicago that year: In 18 innings, he gave up 14 earned runs. The Cubs declined their team option on the veteran, but Kintzler opted in via his player option – keeping him in the Windy City for another year.
He did turn things around in a big way in 2019. In 57 innings spanning 62 appearances, Kintzler posted a career-best 2.68 ERA. In one stretch, between May 21 and July 16, Kintzler made 19 appearances, pitching 17 1/3 innings and did not allow a single earned run during that entire time. Overall, Kintzler earned 17 holds on the season.
Kintzler is due to become a free agent this winter. I recently wrote a piece describing the difficulty the Cubs will have in building a bullpen this winter for the 2020 season, and in it, I mentioned that bringing Kintzler back for next year would be tough because of the contract he’s likely to demand.
However, if the Cubs can afford it, they would be wise to try to bring him back and see if he can replicate his 2019 success.