The Baltimore Orioles sent Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this week. Now it looks like reliever Zach Britton might be following him. According to Patrick Mooney of The Athletic, the Chicago Cubs and Orioles are discussing a deal.
“The Cubs have been tracking Zach Britton and remain deeply involved in the discussions as the Baltimore Orioles market their high-profile reliever before the July 31 trade deadline.”
At this time, we don’t know for sure if a deal is anywhere close. But, this isn’t the first time the Cubs have shown interest in Britton. They were also tracking him heavily last summer. It’s also unclear how much the Cubs are willing to give up for another reliever not under contract past this season. En route to their World Series title in 2016, Chicago sent Gleyber Torres to the Yankees for Aroldis Chapman. Torres is already an All-Star. And while Britton is no Chapman, there’s no reason for Baltimore to willingly sell low.
They might not have a choice, though.
Britton tallied only 37.1 innings a season ago. An Achilles injury has limited him to 15.2 innings this season. He currently holds a 3.45 ERA and 4.44 FIP but a staggering 9.06 DRA. However, Britton has surrendered just two earned runs over his last 11 innings. That’s good for a 1.64 ERA. He isn’t the reliever that saved 83 games between the 2015-16 seasons. But he’s still a valuable piece to the back end of a bullpen. And the Cubs may want a little more help down the stretch. We’ll get to that.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick adds that they might be the most engaged side involved:
“Dodgers and Braves don’t appear quite as engaged on Zach Britton as some other clubs. LA has luxury tax issues, as Ken Rosenthal has mentioned, and Atlanta is hesitant to dig too deep into the farm for a rental.”
Right now, the Cubs lead the NL Central by 2.5 games. But they own the league’s seventh-worst ERA over the last 30 days. Their closer, Brandon Morrow, is currently on the disabled list. With closer Jeurys Familia already being dealt earlier this week, and Brad Hand before that, bullpen options are decreasing. Theo Epstein has a decision to make.
But should the Cubs pounce on Britton?