Phillies' newest reliever reportedly turned down guaranteed money elsewhere


The Phillies have signed a slew of relievers to minor-league deals with invitations to spring training, where they’ll compete for spots in a revamped bullpen. One of them is Brandon Kintzler, the Marlins’ closer in 2020 who has a 2.55 ERA the last two seasons.

Some wondered why Kintzler, coming off of two strong seasons, had to accept only a minor-league deal with the Phillies this week. Well, he was offered a major-league deal from the Marlins and turned it down, according to longtime South Florida sportswriter Barry Jackson.

Kintzler reportedly turned down $2 million guaranteed, an offer Marlins CEO Derek Jeter made Monday night. He instead took $3 million non-guaranteed from the Phillies, a pact that includes $1 million in bonuses, according to Jackson.

Interesting, to say the least. It says that Kintzler clearly preferred this situation over the one he was in last season with the Marlins, who surprised by going 31-29 to make the expanded playoff field and won a series over the Cubs before being swept by the Braves.

Recently signed Chase Anderson said he chose the Phillies in part because they offered him the best chance to win, and Didi Gregorius said Wednesday that he thinks the Phillies have the players to contend. It's the time of the year when every team is optimistic and these guys are no exception.

Kintzler's decision also shows that he believes in himself to not only make the Phillies’ roster out of camp but to play a meaningful role. He apparently did not care about the perception of taking a minor-league deal after posting the two lowest ERAs of his career.

Kintzler did get a bit lucky in 2020. He had a 2.22 ERA with a 5.00 FIP. Fielding Independent Pitching measures a pitcher’s effectiveness at striking batters out and preventing walks and home runs. It is on the ERA scale and is regarded as a more predictive metric than ERA.

Last season, Kintzler had 14 strikeouts and 11 walks with three home runs allowed in 24⅓ innings. Those sorts of peripheral numbers are more commonly associated with a struggling pitcher than a successful one, but Kintzler made it work in 2020 by holding his opponents to 5-for-42 (.119) with men on base. 

There were 257 pitchers last season with at least 42 opportunities with a man on base. Kintzler’s .119 opponents’ batting average was the lowest among that group of 257, tied with Austin Gomber and Matt Wisler. Gomber was one of Cardinals players traded to the Rockies for Nolan Arenado, and Wisler signed a one-year, $1.15 million contract with the Giants.

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