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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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Who is Mike Elias?

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Who is Mike Elias?

Where to begin after a team loses 115 games? That’s the main question settling into Mike Elias’ future when he takes over the Baltimore Orioles' beached ship.

Multiple reports have pegged Elias as the Orioles new general manager. He’s yet another front office member of the Houston Astros to be plucked by an outside organization for a larger role. He’s young, comes from an analytics-fueled front office and walks into a job where there only seems to be one direction to go following last season. 

Elias also has local ties. The 36-year-old is a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria. He went to Yale where he worked four seasons as a left-handed pitcher. Elias jumped into scouting for the St. Louis Cardinals directly after graduation.

Similar to Nationals manager Mike Rizzo, Elias moved up from a scouting baseline to a prominent decision-maker in the front office. Elias was ported from St. Louis to Houston when the Astros hired Jeff Luhnow to become general manager in 2011. The duo, and rest of the front office took over a team that was about to embark on three consecutive seasons with 100 losses or more. The organization became notable around the league for its fervent reworking of approach and willingness to absorb losses to vault to the top of the annual draft.

In 2012, the Astros selected Carlos Correa No. 1 overall. Elias, then a special assistant to the general manager, has received a large amount of the credit for taking a shortstop who became Rookie of the Year and an All-Star. Nine of the Astros’ 14 selections that year made it to the major leagues. Not all with the Astros. Not all with a large degree of success. But, they made it.

Houston selected burgeoning All-Star Alex Bregman with the No. 2 overall pick in 2015. 

However, the Astros’ high-end draft history wasn’t perfect with Luhnow and Elias in place. They selected Stanford starter Mark Appel with the No. 1 overall pick in 2013. Just 27, he is out of baseball after never making it past Triple A. The Astros took Brady Aiken with the top overall pick in 2014. He never signed. 

Yet, the organization continued to turn. Bregman developed into a star. Jose Altuve won the MVP award, Lance McCullers, also part of the 2012 class, became an All-Star. Four years after Luhnow arrived to reverse the organization’s course, the Astros had a winning season and reached the postseason. Two years later they won the World Series.

Hiring Elias signals the Orioles, long viewed as one of the stodgier organizations in baseball, are shifting to the modern era. Baltimore was known more for its reticence to embrace analytics as opposed to its use of the information. The move may also calm the ongoing rotation of the front office bosses. Elias will be the organization’s fourth general manager since the Nationals started playing baseball again in the District in 2005. 

Among Elias’ initial tasks is finding a new manager. The Orioles fired Buck Showalter after 8 ½ seasons. Three of them led to the postseason. But, the mess of last season forced a change.

They also need to hit in the draft. The Orioles hold the 2019 top overall pick.

Elias will try to conjure a way to resuscitate the Orioles while fighting the expansive cash flow of the New York Yankees and World Series champion Boston Red Sox within the division. 

He’s been part of turnarounds before. This one would fully be in his hands.

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How former Orioles players fared in the 2018 MLB Postseason

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How former Orioles players fared in the 2018 MLB Postseason

The Baltimore Orioles were historically awful in 2018. The Orioles were eliminated from the A.L. title race on Aug. 10 and eliminated from playoff contention Aug. 20. Since the divisional era began in 1969, no team has been eliminated from postseason contention as early as the 2018 Orioles were.

The 2018 season was downright awful for the Orioles. Manny Machado was traded to the Dodgers. Chris Davis, who is set to receive $94 million over the next four years, had one of the worst seasons in MLB history.

Baltimore fans knew very early that a trip to the 2018 MLB Postseason was not going to happen. But because the Orioles traded away such a sizable chunk of its roster, fans actually had a better opportunity to see their favorite players in the postseason.

How did the former Orioles players do in the 2018 MLB Postseason? Glad you asked.

Atlanta Braves

Brad Brach (2014-2018): Continuing off of a regular season in which he struggled, Brach was unable to turn it around in the postseason. He gave up two walks and two hits in an 1.1 innings (two games), allowing one run.

Kevin Gausman (2013-2018): Gausman came on in relief in Game 3, Atlanta's only win in the series, though Gausman didn't play a big role. He allowed two runs in two innings, off two hits and two walks (deuces are wild). He did strike out four though.

Ryan Flaherty (2012-2017): Ryan Flaherty had an uneventful October, as he only got two at-bats in the series, and he went 0-for-2.

Nick Markakis (2006-2014): The beloved Markakis' comeback season was a major reason for the Braves making it to the postseason, but he didn't do much with the opportunity. Markakis went 1-for-12, just a .083 batting average.

Boston Red Sox

Steve Pearce (2013-2016): Pearce's overall numbers don't jump off the page, but he's had quite the postseason. On numerous occasions, Pearce has come up with the big hit when needed. He's just 9-for-34, but hit one of the most critical home runs of the World Series when he tied the game off Kenley Jansen in the eigth inning of Game 4, and he started the scoring in Game 5 with a home run in the first inning off Clayton Kershaw.

Chicago Cubs

Pedro Strop (2011-2013): Strop pitched just one inning in the NL Wild Card game, allowing one hit and striking out two in the Cubs loss. 

Cleveland Indians

Andrew Miller (2014): Miller didn't have many leads to protect during the Astros' dominating performance against the Indians, and he pitched poorly when he actually got in the game. In 0.1 innings, Miller allowed one hit and walked three batters, which is unheard of for someone of Miller's talent.

Colorado Rockies

Gerardo Parra (2015): Parra reached base twice in the NL Wild Card game, walking once and recording a hit. He stayed hot in the NLCS against the Brewers, going 3-for-6 and scoring a run.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Rich Hill (2009): It feels strange including Hill, given his minimal time in Baltimore (Justin Turner was left off the list for the same reason). He is technically a former Oriole, however. This postseason, Hill pitched 16.2 innings and allowed four earned runs. Hill was terrific in Game 4 with the Dodgers trying to tie up the World Series, allowing one hit, one run, and three walks whil striking out seven. The Dodgers lost the game, thanks in part to another former Oriole in Steve Pearce.

Manny Machado (2012-2018): You could write a dozen articles about Machado's postseason without even mentioning his on-field performance. Manny has taken a heel turn this October, becoming baseball's biggest postseason villain since Alex Rodriguez. There have been quesitonable slides, weird kicks and stomps while running to first, and even the occasional crotch grab. In terms of the games themselves, he's hit 15-for-62, though struggled in the World Series, being held without a single extra-base hit.

Milwaukee Brewers

Wade Miley (2016-2017): Miley has had an interesting postseason. He pitched well in his one NLDS start, going 4.2 scoreless innings (which is essentially a complete game in this era of pitching). He then started Game 5 in the NLCS and was pulled after just one batter, part of a strategic decision by the Brewers. He started again in Game 6. The Brewers lost Game 5, but he held his own the next day and the Brewers forced a Game 7. 

Jonathan Schoop (2013-2018): Schoop didn't get many chances this October, and he did literally nothing with them. He was 0-for-8 overall, and struck out three times.

New York Yankees

Zach Britton (2011-2018): Britton struggled in pinstripes, allowing two runs in his only inning pitched during the Wild Card Game. He fared better in the ALDS, allowing one run and three hits over the course of four innings across three games.

Oakland Athletics

Edwin Jackson (2017): Did not pitch.