Looking back at Britton and wondering about his future

In case you missed it, Orioles left-hander Zach Britton was named to the Sporting News American League All-Star team.

I saw the tweet after returning home from a mini-vacation in Mexico, where the top closers usually include tequila.

The team was selected by a panel of 29 American League executives before the playoffs. Britton was the lone reliever and an obvious choice considering his historic season.

The Indians’ Andrew Miller, the Yankees’ Dellin Betances and the Blue Jays’ Roberto Osuna also received votes, but they didn’t stand a chance against Britton, who was 47-for-47 in save chances and posted a 0.54 ERA and 0.836 WHIP in 67 innings.

zach-britton-pitch-white.jpgBritton gave up one run after April 30. It still boggles the mind.

The only drama revolves around the Cy Young Award. Britton is going to get votes. But will he become the first reliever to win it since the Dodgers’ Eric Gagne in 2003?

Will the Orioles consider moving Britton into the rotation at some point? It’s not happening in 2017, but his salary continues to rise during his arbitration years and MLBTradeRumors.com projects him to make $11.4 million next summer.

It’s a substantial amount for a closer and it’s going to keep heading north with free agency not coming until 2019.

The Orioles can continue to pay Britton in his current role, decide that he may as well pitch every five days at that cost or trade him while his value is higher than Snoop Dogg.

Executive vice president Dan Duquette seems more inclined to hold onto Britton this winter. The topic can be revisited next year.

Britton was 18-17 with a 4.86 ERA and 1.524 WHIP in 46 starts before transitioning to the bullpen. He’s 9-4 with a 1.35 ERA, 0.913 WHIP and 120 saves as a reliever.

The Orioles are reluctant to put Britton back in the rotation and rob Peter to pay Paul, to borrow one of manager Buck Showalter’s favorites. There also are some concerns about Britton holding up physically under a starter’s workload.

Agent Scott Boras represents Britton and it would be interesting to see how he’d promote the left-hander to other teams. Boras regarded Chris Davis as the best first baseman and outfielder on the market last winter. Would Britton be the top reliever and starter?

The Orioles would be wise to consider an extension for Britton before he approaches free agency, but the same thought holds for Chris Tillman and Manny Machado. It’s especially urgent with Tillman, who’s a free agent following the 2017 season.

Britton was the only Oriole to be honored yesterday. Machado received votes at third base and shortstop, the latter seeming ridiculous when you consider that he made only 43 starts at the position. He committed six of his 13 errors at shortstop.

Machado hit .301/.342/.526 in 468 at-bats as the third baseman and .273/.347/.552 in 172 at-bats as the shortstop.

The Indians’ Francisco Lindor was chosen as the Sporting News’ All-Star shortstop, with the Astros’ Carlos Correa and the Red Sox’s Xander Bogaerts also receiving votes. The Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson was chosen as the third baseman, with the Mariners’ Kyle Seager also receiving votes.

Sporting News will announce its Player of the Year later today. One player is chosen rather than each league being represented.

Who’s your pick?

* Jake Arrieta strung together 5 1/3 hitless innings last night, the longest streak in a World Series start since the Mets’ Jerry Koosman no-hit the Orioles for six innings in Game 2 of the 1969 Series at Memorial Stadium.

Too soon?

Davey Johnson walked with two outs in the second inning for the only baserunner off Koosman until Paul Blair led off the seventh with a single into left field. Blair stole second base with two outs and scored on Brooks Robinson’s single, but the Orioles lost 2-1.

Another example of how times have changed. Dave McNally went the distance and gave up the go-ahead run on three straight two-out singles in the top of the ninth. Imagine media and fan reaction today to a manager leaving in his starter.

The game lasted 2 hours, 20 minutes. I know how the media today would react.

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