Should the Astros renew their pursuit of Zach Britton?
By Cody Poage
The Hot Stove could be heating up quite soon. And the Astros could become awfully busy. Or not. Who knows?
If you haven’t heard yet, the Astros lost out on left-handed pitcher Mike Minor to their in-state rivals, the Rangers.
Those dastardly Rangers!
Minor would’ve been a fine addition to Astros’ bullpen. Alas, you can’t blame a pitcher who probably wants to start baseball games to turn down an offer to start baseball games.
So, who should the Astros look into acquiring? One name that could be mentioned often in the coming days as the Winter Meetings approach is Zach Britton.
Before the July 31st trade deadline this past summer, the Astros were rumored to be interested Britton’s services. The two sides talked, however, it appeared that Houston’s front office were unwilling to trade top prospects for Britton.
Unsurprisingly, the talks stalled.
Time has passed though, and there could still be a fit. After all, Britton, at his best, is a dang good left-handed closer. One of the best in the game. He would fill a need while providing another late-inning compliment to Ken Giles.
The Orioles could also be in the mood to sale. It wouldn’t be a shock to see the Orioles’ front office attempt to shed salary.
The roster has some talent yet the pending free agency of Manny Machado and Britton paints a dark cloud over Baltimore in 2018. Britton will likely earn anywhere from $13 to $15 million in his last year of salary arbitration. He made $11.4 million last season so it is reasonable to expect a raise despite injuries that limited Britton to 37.1 innings in 2017.
Thanks to a strained forearm and a MCL sprain in his right knee, Britton only made 38 appearances this year. And while he posted solid results in 2017 – 2.89 ERA and 3.40 FIP – it was a far cry from his all-time 2016 season.
Next: Astros lose left-handed reliever Mike Minor to the Rangers
Understandably, the Orioles will likely ask for plenty for Britton in return. However, the time for a maximum return has likely passed Baltimore by. The left-handed pitcher is a free-agent following the 2018 season coming off an injury-plagued 2017 season. The Astros, or any team for that matter, could likely wait out the Orioles until the price drops. That said, I don’t have much of an idea currently in what kind of prospects would eventually get a deal done. But it’s likely to be less expensive in terms of prospects than it was in July.
**Statistics and information courtesy of Fangraphs**