Tap-In Question: What do you do with Britton? - BaltimoreBaseball.com

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Tap-In Question: What do you do with Britton?

We care about the environment here at Connolly’s. We like to recycle.

So, let’s do this again. Let’s discuss what you would do with closer Zach Britton.

Yep, we’ve been here before.

But this week, with the general manager meetings going on – the GM meetings are the precursor to December’s winter meetings, so they are like the rumor appetizer before the rumor meal – one report from Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports suggested the Orioles are “said to be willing to at least listen” to trade offers for Britton.

Frankly, I’m not sure they ever said they wouldn’t listen. Executive vice president Dan Duquette, however, has said he didn’t want to trade Britton, one of baseball’s elite closers who will be a free agent after next season.

As a betting bartender, I think the Orioles hold onto Britton until they can better evaluate their chances next July. I’ve lost bets before, though.

Regardless, this issue isn’t going away. We have a whole lot of time between now and spring training (or July). So, we will revisit it again.

Here are my quick thoughts:

** I think the Orioles should have dealt Britton this time last year if they wanted to maximize his value. I wrote that last winter, so this isn’t a closed-barn-door-horse-is-out statement.


** Britton ended the season with a knee injury and lost a chunk of time with a forearm strain. He should be fine for next year, but teams may try to lowball the Orioles because of Britton’s health. To me, the Orioles don’t have to trade him. So, they should keep him unless they get a premium package. That’s what happened in July. The Houston Astros offered the best package. The Orioles ran it up the flagpole – and ultimately it was shot down as insufficient because the Astros did not include any of their three top prospects. (Incidentally, it’s been reported that owner Peter Angelos rejected it, but from what I’ve heard, there was at least one other top official not on board.)

** If the Orioles couldn’t get an acceptable package for Britton in July, I find it hard to believe they’ll get a better one now. So that makes me think they’ll either have to settle for less value or hold onto him and hope this team makes a run next season.

** The Orioles don’t have much of a surplus of anything to use as trade bait to land starting pitching possibilities. They do, however, have a deep bullpen. And an expensive one. Britton has one more shot at arbitration, and he is likely looking at roughly $13 million in 2018. Set-up man Brad Brach, also a free agent after next season, is slated for $5 million or more in arbitration. Add in Darren O’Day’s $9 million and that’s $27 million for three relievers. With the emergence of Mychal Givens, the Orioles may have to trade Britton or Brach if they can’t find starting pitching elsewhere.

OK, that’s it for me. It’s your turn now. Do you trade Britton? Has that ship passed?

Tap-In Question: Here we go again: What do you do with Britton?




  1. OsFanStuckInNY

    November 15, 2017 at 7:30 am

    Agree with every word.

    It may be best to move him for two reasons: salary dump and health. It seems a significant number of pitchers — most? — never regain their former prowess after an injury.

    Which teams are possible trade partners? And can they hire Scott Boras to work a deal? (That guy seems to be able to squeeze the last drop of money out of every turnip.)

    • Dan Connolly

      November 15, 2017 at 8:49 am

      I’d say this: there appears to be no ligament damage with Britton. The forearm issue wasn’t connected. So it’s less likely to be a red flag for the future.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 15, 2017 at 8:57 am

      And you hear the usual suspects: Cubs, Dodgers, Astros. Anyone with deep pockets that could use bullpen help.

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    November 15, 2017 at 7:40 am

    I think it would be more than foolish to trade Zach for anything for less than a king’s ransom … which they simply won’t get. At this point, trading Zach Britton would be throwing away this coming season, which in my opinion, is probably the last year of the team as we’ve known it for the past ½ decade. World Series or bust.

    Now this is is all dependent on whether or not Manny gets dealt. Deal Manny, and all bets are off. Until then, I’d rather hold on to Britton and give it one more go.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 15, 2017 at 8:49 am

      I agree. The Manny direction determines a lot.

  3. Orial

    November 15, 2017 at 8:06 am

    This is a gamble. His value isn’t what it was last July 31st which was somewhat down then due to injuries. Leverage is not in the Orioles favor. If it’s done now I tend to think it’s part of a salary dump. Now the gamble–hold on it him till 2018 deadline. He may regain his abilities,may totally crash with arm issues. All depends on what they get now. 2 decent(not great) prospects may have to do.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 15, 2017 at 8:51 am

      I’m not sure there is a point in dealing him for good prospects. He’s a big part of 2018. You deal him you need to get a legit building block for the future.

  4. tomfink31

    November 15, 2017 at 8:30 am

    Trade. Trade. Trade. Less value than a year ago is still better than nothing. Deal from a strength and likely add 2 players. With a team like the Cubs, one of them is likely going to be MLB ready based on the status of a lot of their prospects.

    The O’s may look very different after ‘18 and a Britton deal would probably help both this year and the future.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 15, 2017 at 8:51 am

      I don’t disagree. But it’s all dependent on what you get back. See above comment for more.

  5. bigdaddydk

    November 15, 2017 at 8:34 am

    It all comes down to what they can get for him. The bullpen is deep and starting pitching is thin. Way I see it, if they get upgraded starting pitching that takes the burden off of the pen, then I say move him. If not, hang onto him until the trade deadline and try to get something then, assuming the team isn’t making a serious playoff push (and definitely not one of those lose 25 of the final 32 games, or whatever it was, kinds of push.) I don’t see them getting what Britton would have brought last off-season when his value was at its peak. Holding until the trade deadline may be the best course of action right now because the farm system has had a fair number of prospects showing more promise, and pitching upgrades are possible through FA (hard not to improve upon what was floating around our rotation this past season.)

    Big question is who becomes the closer, or will Buck suddenly adopt a less traditional outlook on the bullpen and use a fireman approach where the best guy in the pen is in during the highest leverage situation? The 9th inning facing the 7, 8, and 9 hitters isn’t exactly high leverage as compared to the 7th inning with two on and 3, 4, and 5 coming up.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 15, 2017 at 8:53 am

      To me that’s not a question. Buck uses closers fairly traditionally. It would be Brach. If he falters, Givens.

      • bigdaddydk

        November 15, 2017 at 9:05 am

        That would be what I would suspect too, as far as a closer is concerned. I thought at times that Brach was starting to come into his own as a closer. There were times he had a swagger about him that just exuded the bring-it-on attitude some closers have. Not quite the obnoxious John Rocker persona, but certainly not the low key Britton look. Then he had times where he struggled, not that all pitchers don’t occasionally, and lost a little of it. Seems like bad outings came in groups. Givens seems like one who could be a real beast as a closer. He had a couple of rough patches last year, but I think that was being overworked. I’d almost like to see him get a look in that role.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 15, 2017 at 12:00 pm

      I think Brach definitely could handle it. He’d be reasonably successful. But Britton spoiled the fans and organization.

  6. Tiss

    November 15, 2017 at 8:37 am

    I also agree with every word of Dan’s comments. Now is not the time to trade Britton. Let’s think about this rationally. There is a chance Britton is hurt again this year. There is a chance Britton is back to his old self. But is there really a chance he’s healthy and crappy? Really? I don’t think that’s likely. So unless you are overwhelmed, you hold until July, see where the AL East and wildcard race is, and make your decision then. If the O’s are sellers and Britton is awesome, his value will be sky high at the deadline. If the O’s are buyers or Britton is hurt, the question answers itself.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 15, 2017 at 8:56 am

      The only thing is,do you roll the dice on health and deal him now? Like you, I don’t. He’s been healthy most of his career. But if you gamble and he is hurt you’ll get nothing but the lesser comp pick if you offer a QO.

  7. pedro

    November 15, 2017 at 9:09 am

    ZB’s salary is simply too high for a closer when your starting pitching is so suspect. The O’s traded Jim Johnson, who I agree is not on Britton’s level. Common sense tells me why do you need a $13mm closer with the worst starters in the league? Use the money elsewhere. You’ve got serviceable option at closer.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 15, 2017 at 9:28 am

      Fair. But if you aren’t going to be able to land quality starters with that money — and you may not — it might be best not to weaken your bullpen. A shell game.

  8. Steve Cockey

    November 15, 2017 at 9:09 am

    I’m anxious to see if the Jim Johnson effect is again at play here. Duquette said repeatedly that he didn’t want to trade Johnson in the ‘13-‘14 offseason, then he basically non-tendered him, with his arbitration number at $10M+.

    Now, Britton is a heck of a lot better than Johnson ever was; a much more dominant force. So I seriously doubt we see the same result. But $13M is still a big number for a one-inning guy. Luckily, Britton should still command a much better package than Johnson did, even with the injuries.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 15, 2017 at 9:29 am

      Yeah. Johnson’s trade was a salary dump no matter what the spin was. We saw through that then.

  9. BmoreDeac

    November 15, 2017 at 9:10 am

    I think we have no choice but to deal him. Granted this should have been done after last year when we could have gotten a haul that exceeded Kimbrel, Chapman, etc. At this stage we are not going to be anywhere near competitive across the next couple of years barring some big free agent signings (which we know probably won’t happen). Might as well trade him now and get some decent prospects to restock the system while closers’ value are at an all-time high. I don’t see any point in trying to sign britton to a big money deal as a closer when we’ll be a middling team

    • Dan Connolly

      November 15, 2017 at 9:30 am

      I don’t think they sign him long-term. But I also don’t think you can dismiss this current club as non-competitive until you see what the rotation looks like. It was in the mix in September won the worst rotation in franchise history.

      • BmoreDeac

        November 15, 2017 at 11:29 am

        I agree that a lot hinges on the makeup of the rotation come opening day, but on paper as it stands I don’t see this team being able to compete with the Yankees or Red Sox over 162 games. I’m in complete agreement with Bonzi77, and I think a partial rebuild would go a long way to maintaining long term success. The two paths I see are either spend big this offseason and go for it, or trade away the pieces we have that have great value kind of like what the yankees did a couple years ago with Chapman and Miller.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 15, 2017 at 11:51 am

      Yep. That’s the crossroads, I think. But I don’t see a true rebuild. Not this year.

  10. mlbbirdfan

    November 15, 2017 at 9:11 am

    If he’s hurt he would take a qualifying offer. That can’t happen.
    I have seen speculation that the Red Sox wanted Manny Machado and offered a prospect starting pitcher from AAA and Rafael Devers. Wish we had made that deal, although I didn’t think so at the time, LOL.
    Britton’s situation seems similar. The offer from Houston is likely to be the one we regret. I am not expecting a big rebound from Zach in 2018.
    Dan, can you name starting pitchers we might get in a straight deal for Britton this winter?

    • Dan Connolly

      November 15, 2017 at 9:33 am

      No. It’s really impossible to know that. I could speculate but I hate that. If I have legit info I’ll pass it on. But speculation ends up manifesting itself as fact oftentimes. In fact, I’ve never heard the Devers thing. Would love to see where that was reported or again just someone throwing something against the wall with no credence.

  11. Bonzi77

    November 15, 2017 at 9:12 am

    If you made me GM tomorrow, I’d trade him to the highest bidder and several other guys too. But I think my outlook on the current season is probably different than the front office.

    This is decision time, they either need to really go for it (which includes a lot more than just bringing back last years team and adding a couple of mid-tier starters) or they need to sell and plan for 3,4,5 years from now.

    I just don’t think there’s a reasonable series of moves that take this roster to a spot where they can compete with the current Red Sox and Yankees teams. So they need to trade, at very least, the guys who are not under contract beyond 2018.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 15, 2017 at 9:35 am

      This is a very reasonable assessment. And certainly one I’ve kicked around. At times you have to be honest about who you are and what you have. But the flip side is it is hard to blow things up when you have a good nucleus for the upcoming season. Especially when you are on a one-year deal.

      • Dpsmith22

        November 15, 2017 at 1:19 pm

        Sadly, have the O’s really “Went for it” I would certainly say no. They have played the middle. Been solid, but not true contenders. its like Duquette goes to the edge, looks down, and says “Na”

        They have played the middle this long. Not sure I see them changing paths. IF they don’t, not trading Manny, O’Day, and Britton, will be a mistake felt for the next 5-6 years.

  12. Bancells Moustache

    November 15, 2017 at 10:49 am

    All signs point to the Orioles tying themselves to the wheel and charging into the storm this year, the unquestionable last shot for this era of the Baltimore Orioles. The pragmatist in me says sell, it does no good having a guy who protects 9th inning leads when you are normally down 6 by the end of the fourth. But, with potentially the entire organization transitioning next year, may as well keep him around, spend like a drunken sailer and go all in for 18.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 15, 2017 at 11:48 am

      Understood. It’s just that the team may go “all in.” And yet spend like you guys tip in this joint.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        November 15, 2017 at 12:54 pm

        What means ‘tip’?

      • Dpsmith22

        November 15, 2017 at 1:21 pm

        lol thats playing the middle. Let’s be solid, but not “for real”.

        IT IS what they do, or have done.

  13. Marsh42

    November 15, 2017 at 10:52 am

    I fully agree that we won’t get back what we would have last year but I think the bigger picture is in play with this decision. IF we are seriously going to ramp up for one more run and spend on the likes of Lynn and Cobb I say you trade him if you can net an Alvarez type from the Dodgers to partner with the $12 millionish in additional payroll flexibility to help buy the starters. If you can’t get one top 50 arm for him, or PA is not serious about acquiring meaningful pitchers, you keep him and do a full fire sale when July comes around.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 15, 2017 at 11:49 am

      Interesting that you’d advocate trading and spending on FAs. Most prevailing thought is one or the other. Drink chip.

  14. HOF19

    November 15, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    Only if we can get a real good deal for him………GO O’s !!!!!

    • Dan Connolly

      November 15, 2017 at 4:26 pm

      Will be in eye of beholder, I suppose.

  15. 54orioles

    November 15, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    First time I ever agreed with you 100%

    • Dan Connolly

      November 15, 2017 at 4:25 pm

      Haha. Don’t let it happen again. Drink chip.

  16. deqalt

    November 15, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Orioles definitely should trade Britton IF the package is as good as last July, otherwise ride it out for 2018. Orioles really need to close out some of the queston marks before making these moves. How do you effectively put together a team for 2018 and beyond with so many unknowns. (Buck, Dan,Adam, Manny, Zach)If this was a stock you would run away, too many variables. The contracts of Buck, Dan, and Adam(leader) should be resolved before the winter meetings. That leaves you Manny and Zach. That is manageable, you know the direction of the organization. You can’t do anything with Manny for obvious reason so button up what you can.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 15, 2017 at 4:28 pm

      So hard to determine what that potential package was. Not one of the potential guys have I seen play except Moran, if included.

  17. Dpsmith22

    November 15, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    Hey Dan:
    Yea as per usual with Duquette and this front office, proactive is not in their dictionary. Britton needed to be traded last years off season for multiple reasons.

    Anyway, luckily that collection of garbage Duquette agreed to with Hoston, didn’t become our property. Getting 2 prospects outside Hoston’s top 7 for Britton would have been a VERY sell low deal.

    My prediction: IF Duquette deals Britton, it will be for a deal that looks alot like a salary dump. There is no way a mid-market team, especially one with multiple holes, should be paying 12+ for a closer.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 15, 2017 at 4:30 pm

      I think a salary dump would be silly for Duquette. He is in his last year of his contract. Trying to win is his top motivation. Not saying they won’t deal him but I doubt it would be a salary dump.

      • Dpsmith22

        November 15, 2017 at 6:45 pm

        I believe he will need the 10-12 million back to acquire as many pitchers as he needs to make this team competitive. Keeping in mind he needs about 5-6 pitchers, including depth. Without the right additions, it won’t matter anyway.


    November 15, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    I don’t think his trade value is very high at this point. As everyone knows, the shelf life of a closer isn’t very long (with the exception of Rivera, Eckersley and Hoffman). I think this is a moot point because I don’t think we could get much in return. If some team was willing to give us 2 young pitchers, I would do it.
    One of the problems the Orioles have is they don’t have too many players that other teams want and they are willing to trade.
    I think Schoop, Machado, Mancini, Gausman, Bundy, Givens, and. Hays have value.
    Davis and Trumbo are unreadable due to their contracts and I don’t think Adam Jones would bring fair value.
    ORIOLES are in a tough spot.

    • Dpsmith22

      November 15, 2017 at 1:49 pm

      Yes they are in a tough spot. However, poor FA signings and panic trades, have put them there.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 15, 2017 at 4:30 pm

      That’s the reality. Few trade chips.

  19. bv22

    November 15, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    I would explore trading him. The O’s have Brach and Givens waiting in the wings, so Britton is pretty much a luxury in my mind. Maybe they ought to also explore the market for Brach and see if he brings a more reasonable return? Maybe they can even package Trumbo and either Brach or Britton to improve the return. They can’t expect the sun and the moon for Britton, but if they don’t receive a competitive offer, then they should hold off until July or even just start working now on signing him long term to benefit the team and then exploring the trade market for Brach or O’Day. Getting nothing in return for Britton would be a tragedy, same goes for getting nothing for Machado (if either can’t be signed).

  20. bmoreoriolesfan2

    November 15, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    Definitely have to see what could be had for Britton and others if need be. We need good, nay, very good starting pitching. He is probably one of the few pieces that we could offer to get something legitimate in return. If the starting pitching isn’t improved in a major way there will not be many games for him to save. There are others in the bullpen (Brach, O’Day, possibly try one of the young hard throwers) that can help fill the void that his absence would create, may not be able to convert on every opportunity but I believe that they would be good enough. Hopefully an improved starting rotation would take pressure off of the overused bullpen and fresher arms would produce more possibilities for the closer role.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 15, 2017 at 4:32 pm

      Again, reasonable. Lots of smart cookies in this joint today.

  21. mugsneil

    November 15, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    If I can get a quality starter got to trade him. Wouldn’t give him away

  22. HOC79

    November 16, 2017 at 12:21 am

    As it stands, the O’s are likely to go after the Jason Vargas type of starting pitchers and what are the chances two or three of those pitchers having “good” years at Camden. So, they need more starting pitching prospects.

    I am afraid next year, they will live and die with the home run again. That being said, I’d be in favor of waiting until next July to trade Britton, Brach or Manny. The potential trade partners are not desperate enough yet to give up a good haul.

  23. willmiranda

    November 24, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    I’m probably not so reasonable as the rest of you since I’m a Britton fan and believe a lightsout closer is like a shutdown corner. He’s more than just very good, and locking down the ninth inning is like eliminating one offensive possibility for the opposition. You have something dependable you can build on. I understand about needing reliable starters, but even the good ones are good for only seven innings or so. Personally, I would prefer dealing Brach and/or O’Day. They have shown enough to tempt buyers into overpaying while they are certainly committed to underpaying for Britton. Using Brach/O’Day in a multiplayer deal could net a number three or possibly a number two starter, which is as much as we could hope for in return for Britton. Givens and others could do setup work. As for Britton, I would try to extend him by two or three years, keeping a valuable commodity while increasing his future trade value.

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