Closer Zach Britton
Britton missed more than two months with a left forearm strain, but he’s looked healthy since he’s been back. He’s still one of baseball’s best and most reliable closers – converting an AL-record 55 straight dating back to 2015. There’s not a team in baseball that couldn’t use him. He’s signed through 2018, though he could be looking at a salary near $15 million in arbitration; he currently makes $11.4 million. The Orioles have been reluctant in the past to spend big money on a closer, they have top set-up men in Brach, Darren O’Day and Mychal Givens and they haven’t talked to Britton’s agent about a contract extension. If they deal Britton, however, they better get a huge haul in return – at least one near-ready starting pitcher, another high-ceiling starter and a couple more valuable pieces. The Dodgers are a great fit – imagine a 1-2 punch of righty Kenley Jansen and Britton – but so are the Astros, Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks, among others. The Washington Nationals could be, but it would take a major overpay for the Orioles to deal him to their geographic rival. There’s some concern among the fan base that Britton isn’t back to form after the long injury layoff. Well, his pitches have velocity and life, but his location has been spotty, more a sign of rust to me. One team that probably isn’t concerned about the injury effect is the Dodgers. Their team physician, Neal ElAttrache, provided the second opinion for Britton, and was adamant that Britton’s elbow looked good and that the strain near the wrist was not a precursor to elbow concerns. So I wouldn’t believe the hype that Britton’s value isn’t high.