If you were riding the Twitter roller coaster yesterday, you believed in the morning that Orioles reliever Zach Britton was staying, then by early afternoon you were convinced that he was a goner - most likely to the Astros, who reportedly were “close” to a deal - then told again that he was staying. Maybe you raised your arms instead of holding onto the bar. Maybe you found a bar and turned it into a drinking game.
The Orioles fielded offers for Britton. They weren’t satisfied with the return, in part because of concerns about the health of a few prospects included in proposed deals. The Astros were one of the teams, according to a source.
I heard that there were at least three trades in the works that fell through. Proposals reached ownership. But in the end, the Orioles added infielder Tim Beckham at the deadline for a short-season Single-A pitcher, Tobias Myers, who has promise but is a long way from contributing at the major league level - if he gets there.
The Indians also had interest in Britton and were following him for a while, but there wasn’t the same sense of urgency with their bullpen already including Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. They did, however, continue to scout him and engage in talks.
Would the Orioles have traded with the Nationals? Only if overwhelmed by an offer. A monumental offer. A lot more than what other clubs could fork over for Britton.
Grudges only carry so far. But there’s no way that the Nats were going to such extremes.
Executive vice president Dan Duquette indicated yesterday that the return for Britton didn’t match what the Yankees received last summer for Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller. Assuming this to be true, there’s no reason to hand over Britton for an unsatisfactory package of players. Another attempt can be made over the winter - he’d have to clear waivers to be dealt this month - but in the meantime, he can try to keep the Orioles “competitive,” as Duquette likes to say.
Lots of fans are venting about the failure to trade Britton, but you can’t force teams to give up their best prospects. Sure doesn’t sound like the Dodgers were willing to surrender right-handers Walker Buehler and Yadier Alvarez and outfielder Alex Verdugo. So we’re left to debate whether the Orioles should have lowered their sights, especially if Britton’s salary in 2018 and beyond is going to become an issue.
I keep circling back to that topic. Are the Orioles really going to give Britton another substantial raise this winter?
The idea of acquiring Beckham popped into my head a few days ago. If only I had written it as proof.
The Orioles were going to be in the market for a shortstop this winter. It still could happen if Beckham is a dud. He may test manager Buck Showalter’s patience because he hasn’t been known as the most dependable or trustworthy player, but he could be a utility infielder next season at the least and the everyday shortstop or second baseman, depending on whether the Orioles are willing to move Jonathan Schoop to the left side of the infield. Duquette likes the direction that Beckham is trending.
Beckham is a career .202/.270/.404 hitter against the Orioles with three doubles, five home runs and 14 RBIs in 33 games. He’s hit .229/.263/.543 (8-for-35) with two doubles and three home runs in 13 games at Camden Yards.
Beckham has eight hits against the Orioles this season and three are home runs.
The Orioles must create a roster spot for Beckham and right now they have an extra pitcher with Jeremy Hellickson added and outfielder Mark Trumbo subtracted. Showalter doesn’t sound like a manager who wants to carry 13 pitchers and go with a short bench, but that could be the temporary solution. Second baseman Johnny Giavotella could be removed from the roster.
Hellickson starts on Wednesday to close out the series against the Royals.
“He’s pitched in the American League East,” Showalter said. “There’s a lot of things to like about Jeremy. He’s obviously looking for a home as his career goes forward and hopefully he can find one here. We’re in need of what he has potential to bring.”
The Orioles also traded for Double-A pitcher Yefry Ramírez, sending international signing bonus slots to the Yankees.
“I know he pitched against us a couple times this spring,” Showalter said, “if you all remember.”
I have no recollection of him, but I didn’t make the trip to Tampa.
“The kid Ramirez is having a real good year in Double-A,” Duquette said. “He’s got three pitches, he’s 10-3, he’s a good fielder, he’s a good athlete. We like him as a future candidate to help in our rotation.”
Hellickson can only do so much. The holdovers need to contribute mightily, and the recent starts by Kevin Gausman and Ubaldo Jiménez are encouraging. Wade Miley lasted only five innings on Sunday, but he held the Rangers to two runs.
Jimenez has allowed three runs in his last 13 innings.
“Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come and a couple other guys can get on a roll, too, because we’re playing some teams now that when we win some series we can be in it,” Britton said. “And that’s the mindset now. We made the deal for Beckham and we’ve added Hellickson, so just kind of play it out and see where we go.”
“We have a pretty good, talented club,” Jiménez said. “It’s just a matter of going out every night and giving everything we have and compete and let’s see where we are two months from now.”