Chicago Cubs trade for Nationals reliever Kintzler

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • The Washington Nationals traded relief pitcher Brandon Kintzler to the Cubs for a minor-league pitcher.

    The Washington Nationals traded relief pitcher Brandon Kintzler to the Cubs for a minor-league pitcher. Associated Press

  • Washington Nationals relief pitcher Brandon Kintzler is now a member of the Chicago Cubs. The 34-year-old right-hander was obtained in a trade Tuesday.

    Washington Nationals relief pitcher Brandon Kintzler is now a member of the Chicago Cubs. The 34-year-old right-hander was obtained in a trade Tuesday. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 8/1/2018 5:49 AM

It seems only fitting the Chicago Cubs are in Pittsburgh this week.

The National League Central was at the epicenter of activity Tuesday as Major League Baseball's July 31 nonwaiver deadline came and went.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Cubs are trying to hold on to their NL Central lead, while the Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Brewers are trying catch the Cubs or gain a wild-card spot.

All three teams made moves Tuesday, with the Cubs obtaining right-handed reliever Brandon Kintzler from the Washington Nationals in exchange for pitcher Jhon Romero, who was at the Cubs' Class A Myrtle Beach affiliate.

Kintzler is the third recent pitching acquisition made by the Cubs, who traded for relief pitcher Jesse Chavez and left-handed starter Cole Hamels, both from the Texas Rangers.

Wednesday is Kintzler's 34th birthday, and the trade seemed to catch him by surprise.

"I thought they were joking," he said, as reported by MASN. "But I figured it's not April Fool's. They just called me in. I said: 'Am I traded?' And they said 'Yeah.' It's a big shock, but I'm in a pretty good situation right now. I've already talked to them. They're excited. It's always nice to feel wanted wherever you go."

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With the Nationals, Kintzler was 1-2 with a 3.59 ERA and a WHIP of 1.24. Throughout his career with the Brewers, Twins and Nats, he has been neither a high-strikeouts nor a high-walks pitcher. In 349⅓ innings pitched for his career, he has given up 347 hits, 88 walks and 239 strikeouts.

"Just a real durable kind of guy," Cubs manager Joe Maddon told reporters at PNC Park. "A guy almost like a Chavez you've got to be careful you don't take advantage of because they want to go out there all the time."

The Cubs are hoping they've strengthened both their starting rotation and their bullpen, for different reasons. The rotation has underperformed, with Tuesday's starter, Jon Lester, being the only consistent performance.

Because the rest of the rotation has struggled, that has put a strain on a bullpen that has performed well all season, with a 3.21 ERA entering Tuesday. That was the second-best bullpen ERA in the NL.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Cubs also have been playing without closer Brandon Morrow, who is on the disabled list for the second time this year.

Kintzler can pitch late in games. He had 28 saves with the Twins last year and 1 with the Nats.

"He's a guy we'd talked about in free agency over the winter," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer told beat reporters. "He really fits into what we're trying to do, which is guys who pound the strike zone. We talked about how walks have been an issue in our bullpen, and I think he goes a long way in helping that. We think he fits into what we do well."

With these three deals, the Cubs gave up only one major-league player: right-handed pitcher Eddie Butler, who went to Texas in the Hamels deal.

The Pirates picked up right-handed starting pitcher and former Cubs farmhand Chris Archer in a Tuesday trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Pirates sent highly regarded young players Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow and a player to be named to the Rays.

The Brewers, who added third baseman Mike Moustakas from the Kansas City Royals last Friday, picked up second baseman Jonathan Schoop from the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday for second baseman Jonathan Villar.

• Follow Bruce's reports on Twitter @BruceMiles2112.

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