It shouldn’t have been a surprise that Brandon Kintzler was traded today, given that he’ll be a free agent after this season and that the Twins made it clear they were looking to sell. But rather than sitting by the phone all day, he decided to go out and enjoy himself on the team’s off-day in San Diego. This is why Kintzler was, by his own admission, feeding a rhinoceros when he learned that he’d been traded to the Nationals.
You can’t go on a safari in San Diego, in the technical sense—but you can visit the San Diego Safari Park, which has some very lovely rhinoceroses. This is presumably where Kintzler was when he learned he’d be heading to Washington in exchange for minor-league pitcher Tyler Watson.
The Nationals had already made some upgrades to their relief corps in recent weeks—adding Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson—but Kintzler is still a sorely needed addition. While they have one of the best records in baseball, with a very cushy lead on first place in an easy division, they’ve achieved that despite one of the worst bullpens. Collectively, the crew has an ERA over 5.00 and a net negative win probability added; by Baseball Prospectus’ DRA, they’re near the bottom of the pack with a figure of 4.81.
Their bullpen, basically, needs help. Kintzler provides (some of) that. His numbers aren’t flashy, especially for a closer—a crazy-low strikeout total—but he’s productive, with a high groundball rate from an effective sinker.
Sadly, there are no longer any rhinos at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. (They were apparently relocated to make space for an expanded elephant habitat.) Kintzler will have to keep getting his rhino fix on the road.