It has been a good offseason for two members of the 2014 Orioles bullpen. Over the weekend, it was reported that Zach Britton re-signed with the New York Yankees. On Dec. 21, Andrew Miller signed a two-year, $25-million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Miller’s contract is more straightforward than Britton’s. If Miller appears in 110 games in 2019 and 2020, his contract vests for $12.5 million in 2021. Otherwise, the Cardinals pay a $2.5 million buyout.
Britton’s contract is for a reported $39 million over three years, and New York holds a $14 million option for a fourth year, making it $53 million. If he opts out after two years, it’s $26 million.
The two left-handers were part of a spectacular Orioles bullpen that also included Darren O’Day, who had a 1.70 ERA, and Brad Brach, who had a 7-1 record and 3.18 ERA.
The excellence of that bullpen can be admired in retrospect.
Britton didn’t even start that season as a closer but was moved to the role in May and still had 37 saves and a 1.65 ERA.
After the Orioles dealt him to the Yankees just ahead of the July trading deadline, Britton became part of another powerful bullpen that included Aroldis Chapman (2.45 ERA and 32 saves), Dellin Betances (2.70 ERA and four saves) and David Robertson (8-3, 3.23 and five saves).
New York also had Chad Green (8-3, 2.50) and Jonathan Holder (3.14).
The Yankees weren’t considered the favorites to sign Britton, who had a 2.88 ERA and three saves in 25 innings. He’d expressed a desire to return to closing, and with Chapman on hand, it didn’t seem likely that Britton would do that on a regular basis.
Robertson left for the Philadelphia Phillies, who signed him for two years and $23 million with a $12 million option for 2021, but the rest of New York’s bullpen remains intact and looks formidable.
That bullpen could help the Yankees overtake the reigning Boston Red Sox, who have indicated that re-signing Craig Kimbrel could be too pricey for them. They’re reportedly looking at Adam Ottavino, who still might have interest in the Yankees.
Britton has pitched in only 10 postseason games, six with the Orioles in 2014 and four last season with the Yankees. It would seem likely that he’ll pitch in many more over the next several years in the Bronx.
Once O’Day was injured last season and Britton and Brach were traded, the Orioles’ bullpen became younger.
New manager Brandon Hyde and a pitching coach to be named later can only hope that the Orioles can come up with a bullpen to rival the one the team had in 2014 — or 2016, when Britton converted all 47 of his save opportunities and Brach made the All-Star team.
O’Day, who was traded to Atlanta in a salary dump while on the disabled list, had a stellar career with the Orioles with a 28-14 record and 2.40 ERA. His hamstring should be healed in time for spring training.
Brach, who had a 1.52 ERA in 27 games with the Braves, has yet to sign.
Mychal Givens ended last season as the Orioles’ closer. After a rocky first four months, he had a 2.35 ERA in August and September with eight saves in 10 opportunities.
Best of all, Givens concluded the season by pitching eight perfect innings, retiring 24 straight batters in his final five games.
Left-hander Richard Bleier, who had June lat surgery, is on track to return in time for spring training.
Conceivably, Bleier and Givens could be trade chips come July. Had Bleier, who had a 1.93 ERA in 31 games before his injury, not been hurt, he might have been traded, too.
Givens, who has yet to sign a 2019 contract, is arbitration-eligible for the first time, and Bleier, who still has four years under club control, could be valued because they have so much time until free agency.
Adding a catcher
According to USA Today, the Orioles have reached agreement on a minor league contract with catcher Carlos Perez. The 28-year-old has hit .215 in the last four seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, Atlanta and Texas.
Perez has thrown out an impressive 38 percent of runners attempting to steal.
The Orioles have three catchers on their 40-man roster, Chance Sisco, Andrew Susac and Austin Wynns.
Perez will receive an invitation to spring training.
Caleb Joseph, who was non-tendered by the Orioles, has yet to sign.