The latest rumor about the Baltimore Orioles involves Zach Britton and the possibility of him joining the starting rotation.
This new rumor regarding the award-winning Baltimore Orioles closer comes on the heels of rumors that he could be released after his Achilles injury.
Now, Roch Kubatko with MASN has shared that the O’s pitcher could be moved to a new spot after he returns from his injury.
Speculating about Britton’s future
According to Kubatko, the Orioles want the media to stop talking about Britton being released and that he will be given his full salary for 2018. The team hopes that he will be back around mid-July, at the All-Star Break.
At this point, the O’s do not want to trade him for financial reasons as well as Britton’s competitive nature and his loyalty to the team. The O’s stressed that his injury happened when he was working out; it wasn’t doing something reckless. The injury was truly a fluke and no fault of his.
Reluctant to make a prediction
Kubatko seemed reluctant to make any certain statements about Britton’s future with the Orioles. Some of it stems from the fact that Britton has Scott Boras as an agent, and he could encourage Britton to test the free agency market. But, Kubatko did write: “I’ve been told that there’s now a curiosity over the chances of negotiating an extension. Whether the surgery could lead to a deal that works for both sides.” (I wrote about this idea shortly after Britton’s injury became news.)
When it comes to player extensions and negotiations, most teams are rather hushed about their ideas. So, it makes perfectly good sense why the O’s were reluctant to give away all of their plans with Britton.
Could Britton be moved to the rotation?
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Kubatko shared his own thoughts about Britton becoming a starting pitcher. He shared the fact that relievers, who throw an inning or two every few days are getting respectable contracts. Therefore, many prefer not to return to the starting rotation once they’ve gotten their payday in the bullpen.
His concern about Britton pitching six innings includes the fact that Britton has not thrown more than 28 pitches in a game since 2016. He may not have the stamina as a pitcher to get stretched out to 80 or 100 pitches. Considering that he will not have Spring Training to work on extending his time on the mound, it is unlikely that Britton will throw more than one or two innings per game in 2018. In fact, the last time he started was in 2013.
If the O’s do decide to move him to the starting rotation, it can’t be until 2019. The speculation is that making him a starting pitcher would justify the Orioles giving him a big contract. Remember what they did with Jim Johnson? They traded him away to save a few million. The same could happen to Britton.