Based on comments he made in October, it seems a trade out of Baltimore wouldn’t surprise Orioles closer Zach Britton, who has two years of arbitration eligibility remaining. However, Orioles general manager Dan Duquette isn’t inclined to shop Britton on the heels of an incredible season in which he converted all 47 save chances and posted a 0.54 ERA and 80 percent ground-ball rate across 67 innings. “I’d rather see Britton on our team than trade him now,” Duquette told 105.7 The Fan on Thursday (via Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com). If Britton doesn’t receive an extension this winter and instead plays next season on his arbitration salary, he’ll rake in roughly $11.4MM, per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.
More from the American League East:
- Duquette might not want to trade Britton, but he should at least listen to offers, opines Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com. Placing Britton on the block would enable the Orioles to market him at a much lower price than the top free agent relievers – Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon – will command, though Melewski cautions that trading the soon-to-be 29-year-old could cripple the O’s playoff chances in 2017. Baltimore earned a wild-card berth by 2.5 games this past season, and it may have been on the outside looking in without Britton’s brilliance.
- At least one of the top two hitters available in free agency, Yoenis Cespedes or Edwin Encarnacion, will sign with the Yankees, predicts Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio (Twitter link). FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal suggested Saturday that the Yankees are in position to make a bold strike, and signing either slugger would certainly qualify. The team could use help at first base and designated hitter, where Encarnacion plays, as well as in the corner outfield (Cespedes’ domain). New York has already shown some interest both.
- While the Yankees boast a deeper prospect pool than that of the Red Sox, FanRag Sports’ John Perrotto argues that Boston has a clear advantage because of its young talent base already in the majors. When comparing the two teams’ youth, it’s hard to disagree. The Red Sox have AL MVP runner-up Mookie Betts, AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello, Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi and Yoan Moncada among a group of 20-somethings controllable through at least 2019. The Yankees’ best 20-somethings under control for three or more more seasons include Masahiro Tanaka, Dellin Betances, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius. That’s an impressive quartet, but it’ll take a hit if Tanaka opts out of his contract after next season and departs in free agency.