The Hot Stove season is heating up for the Baltimore Orioles in regards to closer Zach Britton.
In a report from the General Manager Meetings in Orlando, a few teams have been chatting with the Baltimore Orioles about trade scenarios with one of the best closers in the AL.
According to Jon Heyman with his FanRag blog, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs have asked about Britton. The Cubs are losing Wade Davis, so they will need a closer. And, the Dodgers would add Britton to the bullpen to create one of the scariest closing duos in baseball. Could a Kenley Jansen-Zach Britton combo be what the Dodgers need in 2018 to actually win the last game in the World Series?
According to Heyman, the Astros and Orioles were in on a trade back in July, but “Peter Angelos’ cold feet” kept it from happening. Had this trade happened, the Astros might not have gone after Justin Verlander in August and the Dodgers might have been the World Series champions.
Do the O’s really need him?
With Britton approaching his walk year, his salary is expected to increase. In his final year of arbitration, he could make over $13 million. After his numerous injuries in 2017, the Orioles managed to make do without him. They were able to rely on other pitchers like Brad Brach, Mychal Givens, and Darren O’Day.
Moving Britton now could prove to be a wise move. The Orioles need starting pitching. Moving Britton could net them a pitcher or it could open up salary so the O’s could actually add the three pitchers they need to build a real rotation.
Revealing the team direction
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If the Orioles do decide to trade Britton early in the Hot Stove season, the direction of the team could be revealed. If the team trades him for prospects, then it could be a sign that O’s are looking to rebuild. However, if Dan Duquette and Peter Angelos get cash or a veteran pitcher, then the team could be looking for a win-now season.
Britton’s injuries held him back
The big question is whether or not the Orioles could win now without Britton on the roster. The answer – of course – is unknown, but no Zach Britton is better than an injured one – which is what the Orioles had in 2017.
Unfortunately for Britton, 2017 was not his best year. He had 17 save opportunities and he blew two of them. That is not typical for the tough lefty, who at one point had a 60-game save streak going into the season. Fortunately, Britton’s agent is the formidable Scott Boras, who will manage to net his client big dollars, no matter where he lands.
Injuries dominated 2017 for Britton. He started the year with a forearm strain and ended the year with a knee issue. Who knows what Britton’s body will do in 2017? It might be better to let another team worry about it.