The Orioles are willing to listen to trade scenarios involving closer Zach Britton, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag. While prior signals were that the organization would hold on to the southpaw this winter, it seems there’s now at least some possibility of a swap coming together.
Baltimore engaged in chatter involving Britton last summer and nearly dealt him to the Astros. But talks sputtered at the last minute and he ended up remaining on hand. MLBTR projects that Britton will earn a hefty $12.2MM in arbitration.
As Heyman notes, the O’s could find it advantageous to reallocate that payroll space to a rotation that’s badly in need of attention. Plus, with Britton slated for free agency after the season, this would be an opportune time to cash him in for young talent.
Houston is not presently among the organizations engaged on Britton, per the report. But the Dodgers and Cubs have already engaged in some chatter surrounding the 29-year-old hurler.
It remains unclear just how strong the market will be for Britton. Prior to the 2017 season, he had established himself as one of the game’s most dominant relievers. But the campaign didn’t quite go as hoped, as he fell short of his own lofty standards while dealing with elbow issues.
Britton ended the year with 37 1/3 innings of 2.89 ERA ball, posting 7.0 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9 while inducing grounders on more than 70% of the balls put in play against him for the fourth-straight season. While his swinging-strike rate dropped off to 11.5% after topping out at 17.2% in 2016, Britton kept his monster sinker at over 96 mph and was obviously still able to use it to draw quite a few worm-burners.