Red Sox reportedly expressing interest in Twins closer Brandon Kintzler

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JULY 17: Brandon Kintzler
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JULY 17: Brandon Kintzler /

The Boston Red Sox added their much-needed third baseman on Tuesday and are now setting their sights on the bullpen.

According to Jon Morosi of MLB Network, the Red Sox are making their rounds on Minnesota Twins closer Brandon Kintzler.

The Twins, buyers as recently as two days ago, are now reportedly ready to sell a slew of assets, including recently acquired starter Jaime Garcia and their All-Star closer. The Red Sox don’t have a need for another starting pitcher, but would certainly benefit from another elite arm at the back of their bullpen.

Sure, they have the third best bullpen ERA (2.96) in baseball, but they’re struggling to find value in the late innings ahead of Craig Kimbrel. Based on the way their closer’s pitching, all they need to do is carry a lead into the ninth to secure most victories. But lately, that’s been a struggle. Heath Hembree blew a sixth inning lead in Seattle on Tuesday and another last week against the Blue Jays.

With Joe Kelly sidelined, the Red Sox are still without a stable setup man ahead of Kimbrel. Matt Barnes is beginning to find his stride again with a 1.04 ERA, 8.31 K/9, and just 1.04 BB/9 in the second half, but he’s been too inconsistent throughout the season to warrant a permanent role in the eighth. After that, the Red Sox are left with Fernando Abad, Doug Fister, Brandon Workman, and potentially Carson Smith if he’s ever able to rehab. The number one priority between now and 4:00 PM on July 31 needs to be adding a reliever.

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Then again, that’s easier said than done since nearly every contender is looking to add at least one arm to their bullpen for a playoff run. The Red Sox were reported to have had a very strong level of interest in Phillies closer Pat Neshek before he was traded to Colorado on Wednesday, leaving them to explore other options. Now Kintzler is another name to add to the list, along with Mets closer Addison Reed and Tigers closer Justin Wilson.

In 44 games this season, Kintzler has a 2.84 ERA, 3.68 FIP, and 26 strikeouts. His 5.28 K/9 is considerably low for a reliever, but he makes up for it with a highly effective sinker that induces ground balls at a 54.7% rate. That along with a 9.7% home run rate has allowed him to convert 27 of 31 save opportunities for the Twins – third most in the American League.

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The 32-year-old is on an expiring $2.9 million contract and is set to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. Because of that, he’ll likely fetch a similar return as Neshek – a mid-level prospect with a few low-tier pitchers to add some value. As far as Red Sox prospects go, expect a similar caliber of prospect as Shaun Anderson, the pitcher sent to San Francisco as the main piece in the Eduardo Nunez deal.