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Should Orioles think about trading Britton?


Should Orioles think about trading Britton?

After Saturday’s blog asserting that the Orioles didn’t have much to trade, a suggestion came from a reader who thinks the Orioles should consider trading Zach Britton because the market for relief pitchers is hot and that he could bring a nice package in return.

There are some very good reasons the Orioles should consider that—and some very good one they shouldn’t.

True, the market for relievers is hot. Craig Kimbrel and Francisco Rodriguez have already been traded this month, and Andrew Miller could be in play, too.

There’s been no talk about trading Britton, but if they did, it would certainly qualify as a blockbuster.

Britton is an excellent reliever. In two seasons, he’s saved 73 games and has a WHIP under 1. Last year, he was recognized for his achievement with an invitation to the All-Star Game.

Kimbrel may be even better than Britton. He has 224 saves over the last five seasons, and four All-Star nods. His career WHIP is .0927.

Britton is under Orioles’ control for three more seasons, and is eligible for arbitration for the first time while Kimbrel, who was traded to Boston, came stay there for three more years, too.

Kimbrel is owed $24.5 million over the next two seasons and has a club option for $13 million in 2018.

To get Kimbrel, the Red Sox traded four prospects. The Orioles could use four more prospects.

RELATED: Orioles keep looking for trades, are there matches?

In less than 2 ½ years, the Orioles have traded off five legitimate pitching prospects: Steven Brault, Zach Davies, Josh Hader, Eduardo Rodriguez and Stephen Tarpley and their system could surely use an infusion of young talent.

Rodriguez, who will be 34 in January, isn’t in Kimbrel’s class any longer, but he’s still a fine closer. The Detroit Tigers gave up a promising minor league infielder to the Milwaukee Brewers for K-Rod.

Britton is actually five months older than Kimbrel, who will be 27 when the season begins.

Would Britton bring in as much as Kimbrel? Probably not.

Only a team with a dire need for a closer and a stocked farm system make such a deal. Houston would be one of the few teams that could match up. While Luke Gregerson did a creditable job last year as closer, the Astros would probably like to move him to setup man and get a stronger ninth inning guy.

They bid on Miller and David Robertson last offseason and were interested in Britton when he was a struggling starter, and they certainly have a farm system loaded with top talent.

But, there are many better reasons for the Orioles to keep Britton.

Darren O’Day seems nearly certain to depart, and while developing quality relievers is an Orioles strength, leaving the setup and closer duties to Brad Brach and Mychal Givens is unwise. Both Brach and Givens may move up to the setup role without O’Day, but neither has closing experience.

The Orioles have strong players at the five most important defensive positions: catcher, second base, shortstop, third base and center field. Three of those players, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones and Matt Wieters are veterans, and trading Britton would smell of rebuilding, not retooling.

Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter would surely argue that the Orioles are still in contention mode. With Hardy, Jones, Wieters, Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop, and a possible re-signing of Chris Davis, the team could contend if the starting pitching is better in 2016 than 2015.

The Orioles should listen to offers for Britton, but they would have to be bowled over for such a move. If they re-signed O’Day, they could listen, but it seems farfetched that they could offer him four years at $28 million—or much more. O’Day could then close.

It’s exciting when teams make trades or sign big free agents. The reaction to Wieters accepting his qualifying offer was muted, but if they re-signed Davis, fans would be justifiably excited, and it would quiet the critics who say the team won’t spend money.

Britton is a quality closer the Orioles need, and while the farm system could use some more talent, having him for three more years is a good strategy even as his salary escalates rapidly. He made $3.2 million last year and in his first year of arbitration eligibility, could go over $5 million.

The thinking here is the Orioles would be wise to keep Britton and build around him.

NOTE: According to a report by Ilgan Sports, the Orioles have signed first baseman Ji-Man Choi to a minor league contract. The 24-year-old has played in Seattle’s system since 2010, but has lost time to injuries and a PED suspension the last two seasons.

Choi, who has a .301 average in their minors, will receive an invitation to spring training.

MORE ORIOLES: Orioles add three minor leaguers to 40-man roster

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American League All-Star Game Roster Projection: AL will be loaded once again

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American League All-Star Game Roster Projection: AL will be loaded once again

The 2018 Major League All-Star Game is less than a month away. Fan votes are well underway and early frontrunners are close to locking their position in the Midsummer Classic.

Yesterday, we projected how the National League roster will play out. Today it is time to look at the American League roster projection.

For five straight seasons, the AL has had the upper hand in the MLB All-Star Game. In 2018, it does not appear that will change as the American League roster will be loaded from top to bottom.

As a reminder, here is how the process shakes out, first with the fan vote, players’ ballots, and the MLB Commissioner’s Office:

  • Fan vote: nine position players in AL (DH)/ eight in NL; plus final vote for each league
  • Player’s ballots: next 17 players in AL/ 16 players in NL; (five starting pitchers, three relievers must be chosen)
  • MLB Commissioner’s Office: five AL players (four pitchers, one position player) and seven NL players (four pitchers, three position players)

One player from each team must make the initial roster (before injury withdraws, etc.). Below is how it looks the American League roster will play out, considering the latest fan vote returns:

American League All-Star Roster Projection:

C – Wilson Ramos, Rays (Fan Vote), Gary Sánchez, Yankees (Player Ballot)
1B – José Abreu, White Sox (Fan Vote), Joey Gallo, Rangers (Player Ballot)
2B – Jose Altuve, Astros (Fan Vote), Jed Lowrie, Athletics (Player Ballot)
3B – José Ramírez, Indians (Fan Vote), Yangervis Solarte, Blue Jays (Player Ballot), Mike Moustakas, Royals (Commissioner’s Office)
SS – Manny Machado, Orioles (Fan Vote), Jean Segura, Mariners (Player Ballot),
OF – Mookie Betts, Red Sox (Fan Vote), Mike Trout, Angels (Fan Vote), Aaron Judge, Yankees (Fan Vote), Michael Brantley, Indians (Player Ballot), Eddie Rosario, Twins (Player Ballot), Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees (Player Ballot),
DH – J.D. Martinez, Red Sox (Fan Vote), Shohei Ohtani, Angels (Player Ballot)

SP – Justin Verlander, Astros (Player Ballot), Luis Severino, Yankees (Player Ballot), Corey Kluber, Indians (Player Ballot), Chris Sale, Red Sox (Player Ballot), Gerrit Cole, Astros (Player Ballot), Blake Snell, Tampa Bay (Commissioner’s Office)

RP – Edwin Díaz, Mariners (Player Ballot), Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox (Player Ballot), Aroldis Chapman, Yankees (Player Ballot), Joe Jiménez, Tigers (Commissioner’s Office), Delin Betances, Yankees (Commissioner’s Office), Chris Devenski, Astros (Commissioner’s Office)

Manager: Jeff Luhnow, Astros

Based on this projection, the New York Yankees will have the most representatives with six. The Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox will both have four.

Ensuring no snubs, there will be five players selected for the final fan vote to get one more All-Star into the game for a total of 32 for the American League. As you can see, no matter how the AL roster plays out, it will be a dominant team once again as they look for six straight All-Star wins.

Four of those five wins were inside a National League stadium and that will not change as the Washington Nationals will host this season.


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2018 MLB All-Star Game voting update: Manny Machado maintains big lead among A.L. shortstops

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2018 MLB All-Star Game voting update: Manny Machado maintains big lead among A.L. shortstops

Baltimore Orioles’ Manny Machado took an even larger lead in the latest update for 2018 MLB All-Star Game voting.

The superstar shortstop maintained his position at the top of American League shortstops in the second round of All-Star voting updates, released Tuesday morning. 

After the first ballot was released, Machado led the shortstops category by over 100,00 votes.

This week, he now holds north of a 200,000-vote lead over last year’s American League starter, Carlos Correa.

The Astros’ Correa jumped from fourth to second this past week while the Indians’ Francisco Lindor dropped to third.  

Machado now has 671,133 votes, seventh among all American League players. For the second straight week, Machado remained the only Orioles player on the list.

Through 69 games in 2018, Machado is batting .310 with 18 home runs, 15 doubles and 53 RBIs. He is posting his best OPS (.945) and on-base percentage (.377) in his career, a bright spot for the O’s, who sit dead last in MLB with a 20-50 record.

The All-Star voting will be open until July 5 at 11:59 p.m. ET and fans can vote five times every 24 hours.

The next AL voting update will be announced June 26.