8:17pm: The Yankees are not only involved but have “serious interest,” Andy Martino of SNY.tv tweets. He adds that the O’s are trying to get something done in short order, which is perhaps not surprising given that Britton is throwing well now but goes represent an injury risk.
12:39am: The list of teams being linked to Zach Britton continues to grow, with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweeting this morning that the Diamondbacks are also showing interest in the lefty. The D-backs join the likes of the Astros, Cubs, Rockies, Brewers, Red Sox and Braves as clubs holding some level of interest in acquiring Britton.
Of course, it stands to reason that virtually every contending club will want to familiarize itself with the asking price on Britton. It’s not known exactly how aggressively all of the teams that have been tied to Britton are actually pursuing him. That said, Rosenthal adds that, similarly to colleague Jim Bowden, he hears the Astros’ interest is “heavy.” The Yankees, who weren’t among the teams prominently linked to Britton over the weekend but are “still trying” to pry him away from the Orioles, according to Jon Heyman of Fancred (Twitter link).
Meanwhile, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported today that the Dodgers could be a tough fit for Britton given the team’s ongoing quest to remain underneath the $197MM luxury tax threshold. Passan cites a league source in noting that a Britton acquisition would put the Dodgers over that threshold.
Certainly, the Dodgers could remedy that scenario by trading away a veteran player, but that didn’t pan out in the Manny Machado talks. Rumors surrounding the Dodgers and Machado at one point indicated that Logan Forsythe could be sent back to Baltimore as a means of offsetting some of the money the Dodgers would take on, but Forsythe ultimately remained in Los Angeles. Perhaps the two sides could come to an alternative solution when discussing Britton, but (speculatively speaking) the fact that no money changed hands in the Machado trade could be a reflection on the Orioles’ feelings on subsidizing a theoretical Britton trade.
On the flip side, it’s possible that the Orioles’ previous talks for Machado with other clubs who also hold interest in Britton could prove beneficial. Rosenthal tweets that the Brewers are indeed among the many clubs pursuing Britton, and their Machado negotiations already give them a good idea of how Baltimore values many of their prospects.
Britton has now snapped off eight consecutive scoreless appearances to drop his ERA to 3.45. Alternatives like FIP (4.43), xFIP (4.02) and SIERA (4.37) still aren’t exactly bullish on his overall body of work, but there’s little denying that he’s been an improved pitcher of late. Britton’s sinker has averaged 95.2 mph over that scoreless streak — up from the 93.8 mph it averaged through his first eight appearances. His ground-ball rate, too, is on the rise and is now sitting at 72.2 percent over his past eight outings.
If there’s a knock on Britton — beyond the $4.45MM he’s owed through season’s end — it’s that his control still doesn’t seem to be as sharp as it once was. He’s walked four hitters and thrown two wild pitches while falling behind nearly two-thirds of the batters he’s faced over his scoreless stretch (35.7 percent first-pitch strike rate). But, with his stuff clearly ticking upward and contending clubs universally seeking to deepen their bullpens, the market for Britton should continue to be robust right up until the moment he’s inevitably moved.