Orioles closer Zach Britton said again yesterday that he’s interested in working out a long-term deal with Baltimore, tweets MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko. Britton stated that he hopes to spend his “whole career” in an Orioles uniform. Of course, any long-term commitment to Britton figures to come at a staggering cost for the O’s. The 29-year-old has morphed into one of the best relievers in baseball, and arguably the single best reliever the game has to offer. Over the past three seasons, Britton has a comical 1.38 ERA with 9.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and an MLB-leading 77.9 percent ground-ball rate. He’s set a new Major League record for single-season ground-ball rate in each of the past two campaigns, including an unthinkable 80 percent mark in 2016. Both Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman landed $80MM+ contracts this winter, and one has to imagine that Britton could challenge those figures in free agency following the 2018 season, barring any sort of collapse. And, with an $11.4MM salary already agreed upon for the 2017 season, it’s not as if he hasn’t already earned quite a bit of financial security.
A few more notes on the Orioles…
- Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com takes a look at first base prospect Trey Mancini’s future with the O’s now that Mark Trumbo has agreed to a new three-year deal. As Connolly writes, Mancini isn’t considered an outfielder, so he’s not likely to platoon with trade acquisition Seth Smith in right field. However, the Orioles still could add another outfielder to upgrade the team’s defense (and possibly platoon with Smith), which would likely cost Mancini his roster spot and send him back to Triple-A. Connolly argues against trading Mancini, noting that he’ll turn 25 in March and has yet to have a dominant season in Triple-A. Connolly suggests that while Mancini isn’t considered a top-tier prospect league-wide, some additional time to prove he’s mastered Triple-A pitching could bolster his value. A bench role is theoretically possible for Mancini, but as the Baltimore Sun’s Jon Meoli observes, with a backup catcher (likely Caleb Joseph), outfielder Joey Rickard and infielder Ryan Flaherty all occupying spots, there’s only one place left, and the O’s may not be done adding pieces.
- GM Dan Duquette would still like a left-handed-hitting outfielder with a trustworthy glove, writes Kubtako, which keeps the Orioles alive as a possibility for someone like Michael Bourn (or, as Connolly suggests above, Angel Pagan). However, any new addition would be limited to a reserve role, as Adam Jones is entrenched in center while Smith and fellow lefty Hyun Soo Kim figure to get looks in the outfield against right-handed pitching. Kubatko notes that the Trumbo addition should put to rest any chance of the Orioles re-signing Pedro Alvarez or of the team serving as a landing spot for Chris Carter — another right-handed slugger to whom the O’s have been linked throughout the winter. Kubatko also adds that the Orioles aren’t going to move Chris Davis to right field, despite the fact that his glove there is passable, as his defense is considered too much of an asset at first base.