With the Orioles’ marketing efforts building toward a crescendo, lefty Zach Britton came up quite a bit in the rumor mill yesterday and also over the weekend. It appears that’ll again be the case today. With no comparable rental southpaws available on this year’s trade market, contenders that want a live-armed lefty are pushing for Britton, whose once-incomparable power sinker has regained some of its former luster.
- It seems there’s a good reason that we’re seeing a surge in the chatter on Britton. Andy Martino of SNY.tv suggested last night on Twitter that the Orioles are anxious to wrap things up, while Jim Bowden of The Athletic indicates on Twitter this morning that talks indeed appear to be entering their final stages. While there’s no specific timetable, it’s possible to imagine a deal coming together at any time. Britton appeared last night for the first time since the All-Star break and made it through unscathed, but there’s really not much reason for the club to take any risks.
- The offers will likely drive the decisionmaking from the Orioles’ perspective, though, even if the preference is to make a near-term call. Multiple teams evidently remain involved in talks, so trade packages could yet change. Bowden characterizes the Astros and Yankees as being “in the lead” to get Britton. Of course, it only takes one call for a rival to leap across the track and cross the line first, and the O’s could always decide to extend the race.
- Indeed, the Red Sox, Brewers, and Diamondbacks are also still in the mix, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (Twitter links), who also notes that trade talks on Britton remain “fluid.” Both teams have been connected previously to the lefty, but it’s notable that they’re still hanging around the picture. The Boston organization has been rumored to be looking for a major bullpen addition; the need for a lefty and possibility of some notable American League rivals landing Britton instead will surely also increase the motivation. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee club surely has greater needs in other areas but no doubt would love to further improve its relief mix at the right price. As for the D-Backs, there are already three lefties in the current bullpen, but Britton would make for a significant upgrade over the struggling Jorge De La Rosa while freeing the other southpaws (Andrew Chafin and former teammate T.J. McFarland) for earlier-inning matchup work.
- As yesterday’s roundup shows, there’s no shortage of possible suitors even beyond those. Indeed, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that the Cubs are another organization considered a serious pursuer. Just two days ago, they seemed an emerging possibility. Rosenthal suggests (Twitter link), though, that the Cubbies may be chatting as much about Baltimore’s top two starting pitchers (Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman) as its best reliever. Meanwhile, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that the Cubs are one of four teams that seem likeliest to land Britton, joining the aforementioned Astros, Red Sox, and Yankees.