Mike Rizzo explains why Nationals traded Brandon Kintzler

Chris Lingebach
August 01, 2018 - 10:19 am
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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo sounded off about his club's perplexing decision to trade veteran reliever Brandon Kintzler ahead of Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline.

Kintzler, since he was acquired one year ago and subsequently re-signed last offseason, seemed an ideal fit in the back of the Nationals pen along with Ryan Madson, Sean Doolittle and recently acquired Kelvin Herrera.

A series of Washington Post reports Tuesday indicated Kintzler had been identified by the Nationals as a leaker, an anonymous source to a series of outside reports which painted Washington's clubhouse negatively.

"Kintzler was shipped out because the Nationals believed he was responsible for anonymous reports that painted Washington’s clubhouse culture as iffy," Barry Svrluga wrote, expounding upon an earlier report from his WaPo colleague Chelsea Janes, who wrote, "Some within the organization speculate the deal was as much about Kintzler’s willingness to speak his mind in the clubhouse as his performance."

Rizzo addressed those reports head-on during his weekly appearance with The Sports Junkies Wednesday morning, sponsored by Burke & Herbert.

"Would it be fair to say the phrase 'loose lips sink ships' would be a fair characterization as to why Kintzler was moved," Rizzo was asked.

"No, I don't think that's a fair characterization," Rizzo said. "There was a lot of reasoning for trading Kintzler. One was that our bullpen depth has really grown since we acquired him and signed him as a free agent. We've got a big-three back end of the bullpen with Doolittle, Madson and Herrera. We've got great bridge guys, such as Justin Miller stepping up the way he has and Matt Grace pitching the way he has.

"We've got Wander Suero, who we believe has earned a chance to get to the big leagues, and has pitched wonderfully when he's up in the big leagues and great when he's down in the minor leagues, so he's earned a spot. We've got Koda Glover, a guy that we really liked and is going to be a good big-league pitcher for us back from rehab, so he's an option for us. We've got a kid named (Jimmy) Cordero down there that throws 100 miles an hour, that's really taken the next step up, so we may see him soon. So we had great depth."

Trading Kintzler returned 23-year-old Jhon Romero, a right-handed reliever for Chicago's Class-A affiliate Myrtle Beach, who's gone 1-2 with nine saves and a 3.27 ERA in 32 appearances in 2018. He's also recorded 57 strikeouts to 17 walks, and allowed one home run while holding opposing hitters to a .237 batting average.

Grant & Danny: Kintzler Rebuffs Snitching Accusations

Moments after Rizzo's interview, the Nationals announced they had designated Shawn Kelley for assignment and selected the contract of 26-year-old Jimmy Cordero, a right-handed reliever at Triple-A Syracuse. Cordero has gone 4-1 with a 1.67 ERA, 47 strikeouts and 21 walks in 38 appearances. He's also saved six games in eight opportunities. 

"We got ourselves some financial relief, not only in 2018, but in '19, to allocate towards that '19 team with the movement," Rizzo went on. "Also, we got ourselves a good, strong-armed relief pitcher, a young kid that's throwing the ball extremely well that our scouts really liked. That's the rationale for making trades."

"Other things do come into play," he added. "We always talk about it. You guys have heard me say it. We want players who care about the name on the front of the jersey more than the name on the back of the jersey, and that's a demand that I make of them, and if we don't get that, then we have an issue."

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