Zach Britton – Baltimore Orioles – Signed through 2017 (Arb. Eligible in ’18)
Britton has been rumored as one of the Cubs “top targets,” with some implying their sources say it will happen. This is the type of deal the Cubs made last year, except they would have control over Britton for another season. Hector Rondon had been a good closer, but the Cubs thought they could do better–and they did. This doesn’t mean that Wade Davis would move from the closer role. But with the left-handed Britton, Maddon could go based on matchups. Your closer is your closer. And while Davis remains perfect in save opportunities (19 of 19), they’ve gotten a little bit more intriguing lately.
In the last four seasons, Britton has saved 125 of 133 opportunities–including a perfect 47 for 47 last season. But there are questions with him. Britton missed from April to early July after a forearm strain kept him out. Since his return, he’s allowed four earned runs in seven innings. And he’s allowed a hit in all but one of those seven appearances. That might not sound like the end of the world. But last year he allowed just four earned runs ALL SEASON.
O’s want a revenge deal?
The Orioles will want a solid return, and they might still be angry about that whole Arrieta and Pedro Strop deal. And Britton is arbitration eligible. With the numbers he’s put up, that salary will only go up next season. But what if the Cubs give it up, and Britton gets hurt again? It’s possible that after being out almost three months that he’s rusty. The velocity is there; the command has not been. So there might not be a lingering issue, but he’s not been as lockdown as he was in previous years. However, if he does put it together, the Cubs backend of the bullpen may become one of the best in the game.