The baseball media world remains most fascinated with the idea that the Orioles should trade closer Zach Britton. Yet according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, it’s All-Star Brad Brach whom the Orioles “remain willing” to deal.
That doesn’t mean that the Orioles are going to trade Brach or even that they’re working on trading him. But if they do happen to trade someone this offseason, he’s always seemed like a likely candidate without giving up too much out of the O’s bullpen strength in the present.
We know from a rumor early last week that Brach has interested the Mets, but not so much that they’re willing to trade Curtis Granderson and chip in some of his $15 million salary. We also know from last week that the Orioles have pitched Brach to at least one team, though the Braves were unwilling to meet their asking price of outfielder Mallex Smith and more.
If the Orioles were going to trade Brach, that’s the kind of trade that would be ideal for them to make: One that immediately fills their right field hole for the 2017 season and preferably beyond that. Otherwise, they shouldn’t trade Brach for the same reason they shouldn’t trade Britton. The Orioles are in win-now mode unless Manny Machado signs a contract extension.
Brach, who will be 31 next April, is yet another Oriole who is under team control through the 2018 season. He can be a part of their push for the next two years. As long as the Orioles don’t completely stink, they can use a guy who struck out 92 batters in 79 innings while posting a 2.05 ERA for the season.
It takes a lot for a setup man to make the All-Star team, and despite the complaining from people like ESPN’s Keith Law, Brach was a deserving All-Star. He was great in the first half last season.
Brach’s not likely to achieve that greatness again, which is why the idea of trading him isn’t anathema, but at the same time, the Orioles aren’t out of line if they try to sell high on him - as long as they can actually sell high. A guy coming off the season Brach just had, who’s only going to make an MLBTR-estimated $2.9 million next season, with another year of control after that, has real value.
The biggest obstacle to the Orioles trading Brach is a similar one that stands between the team and a Britton trade. There are only going to be so many suitors who are in a place to meet the only reasonable asking price for the player.
In the case of Brach, it’d have to be a team where they’re looking to get a reliever to push them over the top but can also afford to dangle an outfielder - if that’s what the O’s are insisting on getting in return, which it seems like they are and should - without hurting their own chances of competing.
With the number of ridiculous reliever contracts that have been signed this season, Brach has even greater value for being a guy who will probably top out at $8 million total over the next two seasons.
I’d rather have Brach at that price than paying sticker for jabronis like Brett Cecil (four years, $30.5 million,) Mike Dunn (three years, $19 million,) or Marc Rzepcynski (two years, $11 million.) I absorb more baseball than most other people on Earth and I had no idea Dunn existed, let alone that he was worth getting a multi-year contract.
All three of those gentlemen are left-handed, unlike Brach, so that’s part of it - parents, raise your kids to be left-handed - but even righty Junichi Tazawa just got two years and $12 million from the Marlins and he has been bad for two seasons running.
Even with mediocre relievers, you have to pay to play. Brach is no mediocre reliever. He is better and cheaper. I don’t want the Orioles to trade Brach because I like having a guy who ground his way up from the 42nd round to MLB on the team, among other reasons. He just seems like a nice guy. But one can’t be too sentimental about these things.
The Orioles don’t have to trade Brach, but if they can get what they want, they should. Let’s just hope that what they want is the right thing for them to get.