MLB Trade Deadline 2018
Let’s assume that the Orioles decide to keep Britton on the team. Let’s also make a few other educated assumptions. That Brad Brach does a pretty good job as closer to the Orioles in 2018. That the Orioles are not likely to be a team that can make the playoffs at the trade deadline, and if it looks like they could, they still wouldn’t be able to win a championship.
Also, Britton returns by Memorial Day and is healthy and returns as one of the top 15 relief pitchers in the game. Nothing said above is a significant stretch. That gives the Orioles two months to find out what to do with Britton.
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Notice, I said above relief pitchers. I don’t think you can automatically assume he returns to the closer role once healthy. Brach will be the closer from day one of Spring Training, one would believe.
Britton’s return will undoubtedly bolster the bullpen. Will he close? Setup? Hard to tell at this point. But, the Orioles will invariably be thinking about whether they should trade one of or both of Brach and Britton at the trade deadline if they are not going to be a playoff contender.
You get the most value for trading someone who is a closer. But, as has been proven with trades for guys like Andrew Miller, you can also get good value for a solid shutdown relief pitcher no matter which inning they pitch.
Maybe Britton takes on a role like Miller, where he is deployed at any point in the game to keep the Orioles in position to win.
Maybe Britton becomes the closer immediately, and Brach takes on that role. Perhaps he just slides down the Orioles roster, providing more matchup opportunities. However, if Britton can show he is healthy and have two full months to pitch, the Orioles will be able to trade from their bullpen depth at the trade deadline.