A look at some positional rankings, plus other notes

Orioles closer Zach Britton is the top reliever in Major League Baseball. That was how ESPN’s Buster Olney sized them up in his latest top 10 player and positional rankings.

As great as Britton was in 2016, this was not a total slam dunk. Cleveland’s Andrew Miller finished second, and while Britton got him in ERA (0.54 to 1.45), Miller topped Britton in WHIP (0.686 to 0.836). Both gave up just 5.1 hits per nine innings. Miller was more impressive in the strikeout department with 14.9 to 9.9 per nine innings. Miller had an amazing 13.67 strikeout-to-walk ratio and Britton was at 4.11.

zach-britton-white-point.jpgSo Britton was No. 1 and Miller No. 2, followed by Kenley Jansen of the Dodgers and Aroldis Chapman of the Yankees. Britton ranks third and Miller fourth in this group in 2017 salary after Jansen and Chapman signed their big deals this winter. Chapman is at $17.2 million for the coming season, Jansen at $16 million, Britton at $11.4 million and Miller at $9 million.

Remember when Miller’s deal seemed off the charts? Others have blown by that and reliever salaries have escalated as fast as any in the last few years. Click here to see the reliever rankings (subscription required, however).

Olney ranked the Orioles bullpen second in the majors to Cleveland. Manny Machado was second among third baseman behind Kris Bryant of the Cubs and ahead of Nolan Arenado of Colorado and Josh Donaldson of Toronto at No. 4.

Five against one: If you look at the 2016 combined salaries of the five pitchers currently in the Orioles rotation, they trailed a single Boston alone last year.

The group of Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Ubaldo Jimenez and Wade Miley earned a combined $27.56 million last season and Boston’s David Price was at $30 million by himself. Price posted an ERA of 3.99 last year, which trailed Gausman at 3.61 andTillman at 3.77, while Bundy was at 4.02.

Arbitration raises and contract increases will mean the O’s group of five will top Price this year. The O’s rotation will earn a projected $36.8 million in 2017 with Price again at $30 million. Yankees starter CC Sabathia will pitch for $25 million this year and Masahiro Tanaka for $22 million. No one pitcher in 2017 will out-earn the five Orioles, but Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers comes the closest at $35.5 million for next season.

Chris Carter talk: Might the Orioles replace one league homer leader in Mark Trumbo with another in Chris Carter? Carter’s agent, former major league pitcher and executive Dave Stewart told MLB Network Radio on Sunday that he has spoken to “four or five teams” about Carter, including the Orioles and Rangers.

Carter, like Trumbo, is a right-handed power hitter with a resume of both a lot of strikeouts and homers. He gains a few more OBP points than Trumbo, but less in batting average. Over the last three years, Trumbo has hit .253/.309/.477 with 83 homers and an OPS of .786. Carter has hit .218/.313/.477 with 102 homers and an OPS of .790.

While Carter has a whopping career strikeout rate of 33.1 percent to Trumbo’s 25.0, his walk rate is much better than Trumbo at 11.6 to 6.7. Plus he would come cheaper and the O’s would not give up a draft pick to sign him. In fact, they’d get a pick if they let Trumbo go elsewhere.

So there are reasons to think about Carter, especially on a one-year deal, if he can be had for that.

Conspiracy theory?: I will guess these two tweets are not related in any way and Jose Bautista was always most likely to return to Toronto. But the tweets showed up about two and a half hours apart last night.

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