Trading Zach Britton: A Suitor in The Los Angeles Dodgers

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 16: Closer Zach Britton
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 16: Closer Zach Britton /

Baltimore Orioles closer Zach Britton has seen some interest from the Dodgers and the Cubs. We look at a potential trade that could send him to L.A.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs have reignited their interest in Baltimore Orioles closer Zach Britton.  What seemed like a deal that was about to take place before the mid-summer trading deadline with the Houston Astros fell apart and Britton remained a member of the Baltimore Orioles.

While Zach Britton was placed on the disabled list twice last year, he still registered a 2.89 ERA and recording 15 of 17 saves.  In a down year, he is still valuable to many teams including the Orioles.

The Baltimore Orioles really have this off-season and next year’s trading deadline to decide whether they will even sell any pieces at all.  In any case, many believe the Baltimore Orioles bullpen to be strong enough to survive a move that would not only liquidate money but allow for the Orioles to get something in return prior to the 2018-2019 free agency.  Let’s try envisioning a trade partner in the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Team Make-Up

The Los Angeles Dodgers are currently working with an absolutely full 40 man roster.  With the November 20th deadline approaching to add players prior to being susceptible to Rule 5, they will have to make some tough decisions.  One of those decisions includes starting pitching.

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The Los Angeles Dodgers have a plethora of starting pitching options, especially going into 2018.  The list of left-handed starting pitchers includes Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood, Rich Hill, and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

The right-handers consist of Kenta Maeda and rising prospect Walker Buehler.  We have not even mentioned Scott Kazmir and Julio Urias coming back from injuries, also both left-handers.  While this is a good problem to have, the Dodgers could improve their bullpen with the acquisition of a premier closer to pair up with Kenley Jansen.

They could certainly liquidate some of their starting pitchers to strengthen their bullpen and the Orioles vice versa.  The Orioles could land one of the left-handed starting options along with a prospect or two for the future.

A Potential Trade

Hyun-Jin Ryu (LHP) + Mitchell White (RHP) + Caleb Ferguson (LHP) for Zach Britton

Hyun-Jin Ryu certainly did battle injury in 2015 and 2016 but made a solid comeback in 2017.  In 25 appearances, he logged in 126 and 2/3 innings with an ERA of 3.77.   While his FIP took a large hit at 4.74, Ryu can still work as a #3 or #4 starter.  Ryu will be earning $7,833,000 in his final year remaining on his contract.

Mitchell White (RHP) is currently rated the #7 Dodger prospect and flourished in his first full year of minor league ball.  In 73 and 2/3 innings last year from Rookie Ball to AA, he posted a 2.93 ERA with 88 strikeouts.

White’s profile includes a plus fastball and plus cutter that is described as almost unhittable.  White’s curveball is above average and a change-up that is a work in progress.  He is a borderline Top 100 player.

Caleb Ferguson (LHP) is currently rated the $21 Dodger prospect and had a very successful campaign in A+ ball.  Ferguson posted a 2.87 ERA over 122 and 1/3 innings along with 140 strikeouts.

The southpaw only allowed six home runs total over the year.  While he was a 38th rounder in 2014, the current 21-year-old has seen velocity improve on his fastball and prove he was one of the best pitchers in the California league.

Why make this deal?

Both Zach Britton and Hyun-Jin Ryu have battled injury and intend to come back stronger in 2018.  They are both under control for one more year before they reach free agency.  One can argue that Britton has the better track record with four stellar years as a closer.

Given this case, the Dodgers should also throw in the promising prospects listed above. The Dodgers would be getting one of the most reliable closers in the game for one year to really get themselves over the World Series hump.

The Orioles would get a left-handed starting pitcher that would not financially burden them for years along with two promising starting pitchers that will start the season at AA.

The Dodgers have made it previously clear that they do not wish to trade any of their top three prospects in Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo, and Yadier Alvarez.  They were willing however to trade Willie Calhoun, their #4 prospect at the time, for 1/3 of a season of Yu Darvish.

Next: Orioles Interested in Pitcher Tyler Chatwood

The Dodgers can attribute losses in Game 2 and Game 5 of the World Series to breakdowns in the bullpen.  Zach Britton only fortifies that wall for next year.  If not this combination of a trade, what reasonable trades would you propose between these clubs?