The Baltimore Orioles are reportedly willing to hear offers for closer Zach Britton, and they’ve spoken to the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers about him.
The Baltimore Orioles are reportedly willing to hear offers for All-Star closer Zach Britton, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Heyman reports that so far, the Baltimore Orioles have spoken to the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers about the left-hander.
Britton has one more year of arbitration left on his contract, after which he’ll become an unrestricted free agent and (depending on his health and performance next year), will likely secure a big payday as one of the best closers in all of baseball.
The Baltimore Orioles had listened to a few offers for Britton during the trade deadline and had reportedly had a deal in place with the Houston Astros that would’ve gotten them prospect Colin Moran, among others. Ultimately, however, the Orioles elected to pull out of the deal.
Among the teams that inquired about Britton at the trade deadline were the Dodgers who were seeking left-handed relief pitchers. Ultimately, they ended up making a trade for two lefty relievers in Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani.
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While the Dodgers have Kenley Jansen as their closer, arguably the best closer in the MLB, Jansen has said that he would welcome Britton to the team, saying “Man, that would be awesome.” Adding Britton would make the Dodgers’ bullpen perhaps the deadliest in all of baseball, with a Britton/Jansen one-two punch.
The Cubs are on the lookout for a closer as their closer last year, Wade Davis, is currently a free agent, though they could easily choose to pursue one of the free agent closers on the market, like Greg Holland, or perhaps even look to re-signing Davis.
Britton had a down year last year that was cut short by injuries, however, when he played, he was still very good, finishing the year with 15 saves and a 2.89 ERA over 37.1 innings pitched.
It was Britton’s 2016 year that firmly established him as one of the best closers in all of baseball. Certainly his 2014 and 2015 were excellent, as he ended up with 37 saves and a 1.65 ERA in 2014 and 36 saves and a 1.92 ERA in 2015, but his 2016 season was other-worldly.
He ended that 2016 season with 47 saves and a 0.54 ERA over 67.0 innings pitched, arguably the best season for a closer since Eric Gagne‘s 2003 Cy Young-winning season.
It would be a smart move for the Baltimore Orioles to move Britton. Their farm system needs help, as does their starting rotation, and with Manny Machado becoming a free agent after next season as well, they’re not going to have the money to afford what Britton will be asking.
Plus, they showed last year while Britton was out that their bullpen can live without him, as Brad Brach performed admirably in his absence. If they’re going to lose Britton after next year anyway, they might as well get a decent return for him now (perhaps some prospects and/or a starting pitcher?) rather than get nothing for him after next year.