Red Sox trade deadline target: Orioles reliever Zach Britton
By Damian Dydyn
Is he really a sure thing, though?
Of course, parsing out smaller samples to make a point is often treacherous ground to walk on. One bad outing tomorrow could throw the whole narrative out the window. That said, there are signs that he’s building his arm strength back up to where it was in 2014 and 2017. It peaked between those years, but he was extremely effective in 2014 and was still really good last year. If he can keep his fastball velocity in the 95-96 MPH range, he should be at least as good as Matt Barnes.
And at this point, that’s probably the best they can hope for. Adding another pitcher with the ability to dominate like Barnes does, but has that lingering question lurking about in the background at least allows Alex Cora to go with the hot hand in any given series. If you were to give me the choice between pairing Barnes with anyone else in the Boston pen right now or with Zach Britton, I’m taking Britton in a heartbeat. He might not be quite as dominant as Brad Hand or Jeurys Familia, but he’s as close as they are going to get this July.
What would it cost?
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The other question is just how much prospect capital will the Red Sox have to part with? And that’s a good question to ask. The answer, however, is not one we can really pin down right now given how volatile the reliever market is. Brad Hand, who is objectively not as good a pitcher as Jeurys Familia, pulled a king’s ransom for the Padres. Of course, he has three more years of control after this season. Familia is a straight up rental. That means that, perhaps, the Familia package is a better corollary for Britton. We also have the Manny Machado trade, which didn’t bring back a top 50 prospect for the O’s. While it’s not impossible, it’s unlikely the Orioles front office expects more back for Britton than they got for Machado.
Putting aside the different ways different clubs evaluate players, and the existence of subjective opinion, it seems like the O’s would likely want something closer to the Machado package than what the Mets got for Familia. Of course, the market will dictate what they ultimately get, but I would assume the Oriole’s following in their own footsteps is probably more likely than them taking cues from another front office. That said, what would a similar package look like?