The Twins haven’t signed any free agents this off-season but it is only a matter of time before they do. One of the relief spots they need to fill is the closer role. The Twins traded Brandon Kintzler, their closer to the Washington Nationals this past summer for 20 year-old left-handed starter Tyler Watson and some international bonus slot cash. Watson pitched in class A ball for both the Nats and Twins.
Brandon Kintzler earned $2.925 million last year and saved 28 games in Minnesota during the four months he was a Minnesota Twin in 2017. In 2016 he saved 29 games. Although not a prototypical closer, he got the job done for the Twins for a modest price on a team in 2016 that lost 103 games. After the Twins traded Kintzler, reliever Matt Belisle received the most save opportunities and he notched 9 saves.
Let’s take a look at the Twins last 12 seasons and see how their closers did and how much they were paid.
|2017||Kintzler ($2.93 M)||28||4||87.5%|
|2017||Belisle ($2.05 M)||9||5||64%|
|2016||Jepsen ($5.31 M)||7||4||63.6%|
|2015||Perkins ($4.66 M)||32||3||91.4%|
|2015||Jepsen ($3.03 M)||10||1||90.9%|
|2014||Perkins ($4.03 M)||34||7||82.9%|
|2013||Perkins ($2.5 M)||36||4||90%|
|2012||Perkins ($1.55 M)||16||4||80%|
|2012||Capps ($4.5 M)||14||1||93.3%|
|2011||Nathan ($11.25 M)||14||3||82.4%|
|2010||Rauch ($2.9 M)||21||4||84.0%|
|2010||Capps ($3.5 M)||16||2||88.9%|
|2008||Nathan ($6.0 M)||39||6||86.7%|
|2007||Nathan ($5.25 M)||37||4||90.2%|
|2006||Nathan ($3.75 M)||36||2||94.7%|
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If you look at the percentage of games closed for the top three Twins closers over the last 12 seasons you end up with a save percentage of 90.3 for Joe Nathan, 86.8 for Glen Perkins, and 86.5 for Brandon Kintzler. In 2017 the average closer had 25 saves in 29 opportunities and saved 86.7% of games they were asked to save.
Rumors have circulated that the Twins have inquired about Raisel Iglesias from the Reds, Alex Colome of the Rays and Brad Hand of the Padres. I like Brad Hand a lot and he is a very nice lefty, but not as a closer, the Padres have tried him in that role without much success. As a set-up guy he would be perfect. The right-handed Iglesias will be 28 next season and is owed $16.64 million over the next three seasons and the earliest he can become a free agent in 2022 so that makes him a long-term keeper. Colome, soon to be 29 is right-handed and only made $547,900 this past season and is arbitration eligible for 2018, the earliest he could become a free agent is 2021. He has closed in Tampa for the last two years and has posted 37 and a MLB leading 47 saves in 2017.
Free agents like Wade Davis, Greg Holland, Addison Reed, Brandon Kintzler and of course Glen Perkins are also out there and you can get these guys with cash, you don’t have to give up anyone. Davis, a 32 year-old right hander made $10 million in 2017, Holland, is 32 and right-handed but missed 2016 with TJ surgery. He bounced back with a great year with Colorado with a league leading 41 saves and 58 games finished. Coming off his TJ year he played for $6 million in 2017. I would not touch Perkins with the proverbial 10-foot pole. I also would keep the FA contracts to two years and a team option for year three.
My first choice would be to make a deal for Raisel Iglesias or if Iglesias is out of reach, I would go for Alex Colome. The reasons I like the Cuban Iglesias is that he went more than one inning in 18 of his 63 appearances. If it came down to going the free agent route I would like to see the Twins get Greg Holland before Wade Davis simply because of money, I think Holland will be cheaper, performance wise they are about equals. I think these guys are the cream of the crop, after that the risk goes up but the price goes down.