The Orioles have agreed to a $6.75MM salary to avoid arbitration with closer Zach Britton, Jon Heyman reports on Twitter. He was projected by MLBTR to earn $6.9MM, and his ultimate settlement point lands at the precise midpoint between his $7.9MM and the club’s $5.6MM filing numbers.
It’s difficult to overstate just how dominant Britton has become since moving to the bullpen 2014. After failing to stick as a starter, the 28-year-old swiftly took over the O’s closer role and has only improved since.
Britton’s earned run average ticked up last year after his emergence in the prior year. But by almost any other measure, he went from being a good reliever to one of the very best in the game. Over 65 2/3 frames, he put up 10.8 K/9 against just 1.9 BB/9 and a record-setting 79.1% groundball rate.
Really, there’s nothing to pick at in Britton’s 2015 efforts. His fastball velocity trended slightly upward, to 95.8 mph, and ERA estimators supported his sub-2.00 ERA efforts. One could point to a twenty percent home run per flyball ratio, but — somewhat comically — that reflects only three home runs hit out of the 15 flies put in play against Britton last season.
Baltimore can control Britton for another pair of seasons after this one. He obviously was able to greatly enhance his earning power by reaching Super Two eligibility last year on the heels of a strong year, and then following up on that with his huge 2015. But while the earnings will keep increasing, especially if he can continue his current trajectory, the O’s should continue to find great value in their surprising relief ace.