There’s a lot of rumblings these days regarding Orioles closer, Zach Britton. No, it’s not the usual rumblings of “why didn’t Britton pitch in the Wild Card game?” We know why, let’s move on.
The rumblings you’re hearing are in regards to trading Zach Britton, in exchange for prospects (yes I refer to the possibility of multiple prospects) that could potentially improve this club and get them deeper into the postseason in 2017 and beyond. But, what could the Orioles actually get in return for the possible AL Cy-Young winning closer?
Let’s explore one possible scenario…
Britton, who will turn 29 in December, is entering his seventh season in Baltimore, and has not blown a save since September 20, 2015. By the time the 2017 season arrives, that would be 559 (I think I can count) straight calendar days since his last blown save. That’s rapidly approaching Eric Gagne’s streak of 678 straight without a blown save. Surely that’s enough in itself to get a substantial return on investment, however, I cannot see the Orioles trading Britton for anybody that doesn’t have LHP with a comma after their name.
The Orioles could try to work out a deal with the San Francisco Giants to land a few of their minor league prospects, starting with LHP, Ty Blach. The Orioles should search for a left-handed starter this winter, and with the Giants closer, Santiago Casilla hitting the free agent market, a trade to send Blach to Baltimore could wind up being beneficial for both clubs.
In 98 starts at the minor league level, Ty Blach holds a career 3.53 ERA, with a 6.2 K/9 rating. Last season with the Triple-A affiliate Sacramento River Cats, Blach finished third among club lefties in ERA with a 3.43 mark. Blach got the call up to the majors in September, and started twice for the Giants, one of which in October going 8 strong against the Dodgers, picking up his first major league victory.
The O’s could also ask for relief pitcher, Steven Okert. In 16 games with the Giants in 2016, the 25-year-old lefty from Riverside, California pitched to a 3.21 ERA, with a 1.13 ERA through nine appearances in September. Throughout his minor league career, Okert is 15-10, with a career ERA of 3.01, and a 0.6 HR/9 average.
How about we couple those pitchers with outfielder, Austin Slater?
Every major league club needs guys that can get on base, and the Orioles are not exempt to that statement. In 2016, the O’s lived and died by the long ball. Of course the home runs are great, but they’re so much more effective with other guys on board.
Slater, 23, has a career slash line of .305/.369/.439, in 254 games in the minors. Last season, in a combined 109 games with Double-A affiliate Flying Squirres and Triple-A affiliate River Cats, Slater finished with a .393 on-base percentage.
Of course, there are many possibilities to explore when it comes to a trade of this magnitude, and these are just a few. Could it happen? Well that’s not up to me to decide, and I’m thankful it’s not. There could potentially be a lot of fans that don’t agree with that move. However, baseball is a business, and it doesn’t have to please the fans all the time. What it does have to do, is improve the quality of play on a nightly basis, and give a team the best possible chance to end the season with a championship.
I’m sure if the Orioles were to be hosting a championship parade downtown next October, a possible trade of Zach Britton this offseason would be the last thing on your mind.