LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Nationals had been quiet through the first three days of the Winter Meetings before they entered the relief-pitcher market in the early hours of Thursday morning. Washington has agreed to a two-year deal to bring back right-hander Brandon Kintzler, a source told MLB.com.The club
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Nationals had been quiet through the first three days of the Winter Meetings before they entered the relief-pitcher market in the early hours of Thursday morning. Washington has agreed to a two-year deal to bring back right-hander Brandon Kintzler, a source told MLB.com.
The club has not confirmed the agreement, which is reportedly worth $10 million and includes a club option -- with the potential to be worth as much as $16 million including incentives, according to a report by USA Today. Kintzler will reportedly earn $5 million in 2018. The deal, which is pending a physical, was first reported by MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.
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Finding a right-handed reliever was one of the offseason priorities for the Nationals, and they'll leave the Winter Meetings ready to bring back the formula that worked so well at the back end of their bullpen last season. Washington acquired Kintzler from the Twins before the non-waiver Trade Deadline in July, and he formed a relief trio along with Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson that transformed the team's bullpen from a weakness to a strength.
Kintzler, 33, had been a closer with Minnesota before being traded, and he should settle into a late-innings setup role again with Washington. The Nats were looking for more depth in their bullpen, especially from the right side, where they have some uncertainty. Aside from Kintzler and Madson, Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover are also projected as right-handers in the 'pen, but Kelley and Glover each also come with health concerns after multiple stints on the disabled list in 2017.
Kelley missed the final three weeks of the regular season with bone chips in his throwing elbow, and Glover was shut down at midseason after dealing with severe rotator cuff inflammation. Both are expected to begin next season on time and healthy, but the Nats do not want to rely on them for heavy workloads in 2018.
Kintzler has become particularly reliable during the past few years. He transitioned from setup man to closer with Minnesota and made his first All-Star team in 2017, before the Nats acquired him. Washington also re-signs him at what it considers a reasonable price, as the relief-pitcher market has heated up in recent days.
"It's a good to be a middle reliever," general manager Mike Rizzo said with a laugh Wednesday. "With the way the game has transpired the last couple years with the mega-bullpens and stuff like that, I think you've seen a groundswell of relief contracts, and the market has grown. I think they're being more appreciated and compensated as well."
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.