With Zach Britton two years away from free agency, the Baltimore Orioles should take their chances and extend the closer to a multi-year deal.
For the Baltimore Orioles, there is no one more reliable than closer Zach Britton. And with Britton approaching free agency following the 2017 season, the Orioles know that they have a decision to make.
Britton’s price during his final two years of arbitration isn’t going to decrease. Because Britton is one of the best closers in baseball, he’s going to command a hefty price in free agency. But should the team let Britton’s contract expire, or should they extend him for a few more years?
The Orioles know Britton is not going to come cheap, but if they extend him, they wouldn’t have to see another one of their relievers succeed elsewhere. (Andrew Miller, anybody?).
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In fact, this year alone Britton was one of the best closers in the game. He went 2-1 with a 0.54 ERA an a 0.836 WHIP in 67 innings.
But what if extending Britton isn’t part of the Orioles plan this winter? What if the front office plans on moving him and third baseman Manny Machado? Well, according to Executive vice president Dan Duquette, trading Britton or Machado isn’t exactly out of the question.
During his end of the year press conference, Duquette said the following.
"I haven’t thought about that that much, but that’s something we can think about for the offseason. I like those guys on our ballclub, I like the work that they do and I like watching them every day. One’s an MVP candidate and the other one’s a Cy Young Award candidate. Those guys are tough to find and they’re young and they’re good and they play for the Orioles. We like them on our ballclub."
A similar scenario played out in 2014 when the Orioles traded Jim Johnson because his arbitration salary was going to reach $10 Million. To be fair, Johnson didn’t have similar numbers to Britton. But if the team were to trade Britton, he would understand.
Britton told the following to BaltimoreBaseball.com.
"You saw it with Jim Johnson, once the salary got up to a certain point, he got traded. I think I’m kind of approaching there. So I don’t know how long I’m going to be here. You see how many relievers are on the move nowadays. But it’d be nice to stay here."
I’ve seen far too many bullpens suffer during the postseason because they didn’t have an elite closer. But having Britton on the roster could do wonders for the organization in the near future.
In fact, the problem with the team this postseason was because they didn’t use a healthy Zach Britton. I wonder if Buck Showalter still regrets not using Britton in the Wild Card game.