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Should the Orioles think about trading Brad Brach?

Should the Orioles think about trading Brad Brach?

The Orioles should trade Zach Britton and get a haul for him. That was the suggestion of one reader when I wrote on Friday of the moves the team could potentially make this offseason. 

When Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter held their year-end press briefing on Oct. 4, Duquette was asked about the possibility of trading Britton or Manny Machado, both of whom could be free agents two years from now. 

“I haven’t thought about that that much, but that’s something we can think about for the offseason,” Duquette said. “I like those guys on our ballclub, I like the work that they do and I like watching them every day. One’s an MVP candidate and the other one’s a Cy Young Award candidate. Those guys are tough to find and they’re young and they’re good and they play for the Orioles. We like them on our ballclub.”

In Duquette’s five years with the Orioles, the team has been in contention each season, and he has shown no inclination to trade attractive players who are nearing free agency. 

Not even in 2015 when the Orioles were on the fringe of contention and they had some tradeable assets who were about to become free agents: Wei-Yin Chen, Darren O’Day and Matt Wieters, did they trade.

Instead of trying to move them, Duquette added another looming free agent, Gerardo Parra, to the team. 

Trading Britton after his historical season, could appear to some to be wise, but even though he’s under club control for two more seasons, those will be expensive seasons, and there are many clubs who would balk at paying a reliever—even one as excellent as Britton—the $11.4 million that he could earn in arbitration, according to MLBTradeRumors.com.

If Britton has another good season, he could make perhaps $15 million in his final arbitration year, and while some teams with large payrolls could afford that, how many teams have the type of players that would make a deal like that attractive to the Orioles? 
As good as the Orioles bullpen is, Britton is the key. 

But, there’s another alternative to trading the best relief pitcher in baseball, and that’s trading Brad Brach.

Brach is also two years away from free agency, and while he’s no Britton, some teams needing a closer may think he could fit. 

It’s highly unlikely that two years from now, the Orioles could afford a high priced bullpen that includes O’Day, who is set to make $9 million in 2018 and 2019, Britton and Brach. 

While Duquette has held onto his free agents, the Orioles don’t have many attractive veteran players to trade, and Brach is perhaps the most attractive. 

Brach was obtained three years ago from San Diego, where he struggled to establish himself as a major leaguer. In one of Duquette’s best trades, the Orioles acquired Brach for minor league pitcher Devin Jones, who did not play in 2016. 

In his three seasons with the Orioles, Brach is 22-8 with a 2.61 ERA and last year had a 2.05 ERA and an All-Star selection.

Brach has three saves in the last two years, and in arbitration, he is estimated to bring home $2.9 million in 2017, far less than Britton’s number. 

The three biggest reliever names expected to hit the market are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon. If the Kansas City Royals don’t exercise Wade Davis’ $10 million option, he could be on the market, too. 

Brach would also be far cheaper than any of those. 

While a bullpen featuring Brach, Britton, O’Day, Mychal Givens and Donnie Hart would be strong, Givens has pitched well enough to move into Brach’s role. 

In his last 13 regular season appearances, Givens allowed just one run on six hits in 12 2/3 innings, striking out 16. In Brach’s last 13 appearances, he allowed eight runs—five earned—on 13 hits in 12 1/3 innings for a 3.65 ERA. 

I’m not one to throw out fantasy trades, but it’s obvious the Orioles are looking for help in the leadoff spot as well as fortifying catching. 

If Brach, who underwent minor knee surgery earlier this month, can fetch the Orioles some help at the top of the order, perhaps they should listen. 

I’m not campaigning for the Orioles to trade Brach, but they’ve shown organizational ability to develop relievers. In the past two seasons, they’ve brought both Givens and Hart up directly from Double-A. 

Showalter likes having relievers who are optionable, and moving Brach could open a spot for a reliever who can be freely optioned.
Givens, Hart, Oliver Drake and Parker Bridwell all have options. 

Keeping Brach isn’t a bad idea, but seeing what they could get for him seems to make a lot of sense. 

MORE ORIOLES: Hardy has been dependable for Orioles

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Kevin Gausman changes jersey number to honor Roy Halladay

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USA Today Sports

Kevin Gausman changes jersey number to honor Roy Halladay

BALTIMORE  -- Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman will wear No. 34 next season as a tribute to Roy Halladay, who was killed in a plane crash last month.

Gausman announced the switch Thursday on his Twitter account. The right-hander wore No. 39 last year.

Gausman and Halladay are both from Colorado, and the Orioles pitcher said he followed Halladay's career closely and idolized him.

In a post next a photo of his new jersey, Gausman wrote: "Roy gave me the inspiration that I could fulfill even my biggest of dreams -- being a pitcher just like him."

Gausman concluded: "The loss of Roy is tragic and saddening, but I feel honored to have watched everything he achieved."

Halladay died on Nov. 7 when his small plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. He played 16 big league seasons, winning the Cy Young Award in each league and being named an All-Star eight times.

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Astros, Dodgers set Series HR record amid juiced ball buzz

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USA TODAY Sports

Astros, Dodgers set Series HR record amid juiced ball buzz

HOUSTON (AP) -- Home runs kept flying over the wall at Minute Maid Park, on line drives up toward the train tracks, on fly balls that just dropped over the fence.

Seven more were hit in Game 5, raising the total to a World Series record 22 -- with two possible more games to play. Twenty-five runs were scored in a game started by the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw and the Astros' Dallas Keuchel, Cy Young Award winners regarded as among baseball's best.

After a season when sluggers outpaced even their steroid-era predecessors for home runs, some are convinced that something is amiss with the baseballs.

"The main complaint is that the balls seem a little bit different in the postseason, and even from the postseason to the World Series balls," Justin Verlander said Sunday, two days before he takes the mound in Game 6 and tries to pitch the Astros to their first title. "They're a little slick. You just deal with it. But I don't think it's the case of one pitcher saying, `Hey, something is different here.' I think as a whole, everybody is saying, `Whoa, something is a little off here.'"

A record eight home runs were hit in Game 2, including five in extra innings, and Game 5's seven long balls would have tied the old mark. The 13-12, 10-inning Astros' win Sunday night was the second-highest scoring game in Series history.

Keuchel was quoted as saying after Game 2: "Obviously, the balls are juiced."

Not so obvious to everyone, even amid the power surge.

"I haven't personally noticed anything. I haven't tried to think about it either," Dodgers reliever Brandon Morrow said after giving up two homers in Game 5. "It's not something you want to put in your own head."

Same for Kershaw, even after giving up his record eighth homer of the postseason Sunday.

"I don't really pay attention to it," Kershaw said. "I just assume that both sides are dealing with it, so I'm not going to worry about it."

This year's long ball assault topped the 21 of the 2002 Series. Anaheim hit seven and Barry Bonds and his San Francisco Giants slugged 14 over seven games. That was the year before survey drug testing.

Speculation that something has changed includes a study claiming to have found differences in the size and seam height of balls since the 2015 All-Star break.

"I know there was talk about different sizes and some of the baseballs were slightly bigger and some were smaller. Some of the seams were higher, some of the seams were lower. But, no, it's been consistent," said Rich Hill, who will start Game 6 for the Dodgers. "I think that just has to do with conditions -- if it's colder it's going to be slicker. If it's a little bit warmer out or humid, I think you're going to find that you're going to have a little bit more of moisture to the baseballs."

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred insists nothing nefarious is going on.

"I'm absolutely confident that the balls that we're using are within our established specifications," he said Friday.

Verlander rejected that assertion.

"I know Mr. Manfred said the balls haven't changed, but I think there's enough information out there to say that's not true," he said.

Verlander also does not think it's an issue of how balls are rubbed up before games.

"I know baseball uses the same mud for every single ball for every single game that's played," he said. "I think there's a broader issue that we're all missing."

On the day he become commissioner in January 2015, Manfred said, "I'm cognizant in the drop in offense over the last five years, and it's become a topic of conversation in the game, and it's something that we're going to have to continue to monitor and study."

Offense started rebounding during the second half of the season, and a record 6,105 home runs were hit this year, 2.4 percent more than the previous mark of 5,963 set in 2000 at the height of the Steroids Era.

"I think it's pretty clear," Verlander said. "I think our commissioner has said publicly that they wanted more offense in the game. I'm pretty sure I'm not fabricating a quote here when I say that. I think it was already All-Star break of `15, or right before, when he said that."

San Francisco's Johnny Cueto and Toronto's Marcus Stroman also think the balls have changed, with Stroman blaming slick balls for a rise in pitcher blisters -- an affliction which has struck Hill a few times in the past couple seasons, too.

Houston's Brent Strom and the Dodgers' Rick Honeycutt, the World Series pitching coaches, both were quoted by Sports Illustrated on Sunday as saying the slickness of the ball made throwing sliders difficult.

"Everyone is entitled to their opinion," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I don't see a ton difference, but I'm not going to get in a verbal war with coaches and players who think otherwise."

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had a similar view but acknowledged the power records got his attention.

"The pitchers talk about it feels different in their hand. The one component is the slickness and guys at different ballparks rub it up differently," he said. "Sort of feels the same to me. But it's hard to argue the numbers. You know there's more velocity. Guys are swinging harder. I know in Los Angeles the air was light. It was hot. The ball was flying, carrying more than typically. But I hesitate to try to give you any insight because I really don't know."

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