The back end of the Orioles bullpen is one area of the team that hasn't been a total disappointment, even with the absence of Zach Britton from the closer role. While the rest of the guys haven't been flawless, they have done well for themselves, and other MLB teams have noticed. FanRag's Jon Heyman reports that the Orioles have fielded "a lot of calls" about their relievers.
In addition to the obvious one, Britton, the other two names Heyman puts out there are Brad Brach and Mychal Givens. In Heyman's estimation, he doesn't believe the Orioles will trade any of their position players, particularly not Manny Machado, but he thinks that trading out of the bullpen could help the Orioles rebuild their system quickly.
The Dodgers are a specific team who are known to have called about Britton. That's always seemed like one of the more interesting possible destinations for Britton, if the Orioles decided to trade him, because they're a team with five top 100 prospects in MLB Pipeline's rankings.
In short, the Dodgers have some surplus they could deal from in order to add a reliever of Britton's caliber. They already have closer Kenley Jansen, but according to Heyman, the idea of a Britton-Jansen one-two punch is appealing to many with the Dodgers, including Jansen himself. The Dodgers likely also aren't too worried about how much Britton's salary will cost in 2018.
An added bonus of Britton to the Dodgers, at least for O's fans, is that his going to the NL West means we won't have to think about him very often, and even if the Dodgers end up winning it all because of him, not many O's fans are going to have a grudge that makes the idea of the Dodgers succeeding with Britton extra bitter.
The neighboring Nationals, with its stump dump fire of a bullpen, are also called out as a team that would "love to get their hands on" Britton, but as our George Battersby noted earlier today, there's one big, looming problem with selling off anybody to the Nationals in particular: Peter Angelos.
Appropriately, there was a new development today in the ongoing MASN court case, which is surely at the root of a "don't trade with the Nationals, ever" policy, if such a thing exists.
A New York appeals court ruled that, while MLB's prior ruling about MASN rights fees should still be thrown out, there should be a re-hearing in front of today's version of that same MLB panel. If things stay on that track the rest of the way, MLB and the Nationals will get a second chance to stick it to the Orioles over TV money.
If I was entangled in such an imbroglio, I don't think I would be inclined to do any favors for the adversarial party either. The O's would, of course, get to raid a desperate Nationals organization's farm in such a trade, but surely watching Britton possibly helping that franchise win its first ever playoff series would cause some heartburn.
In general, Angelos seems to be seen as the biggest obstacle to the Orioles selling off players, if they decide that's what they should do based on how the next couple of weeks of baseball games go. Heyman is writing about it today. Ken Rosenthal was talking about it over the weekend.
Angelos wants to win. Who doesn't? But maybe this year just isn't the O's year. The best case scenario is they come out of the All-Star break hot enough to pull closer to contention so that there doesn't have to be any more talk of selling at all.
If that doesn't happen, then in a couple more weeks we might be having to hear a lot about who wants what Orioles player and what they might get back for them. Angelos would then have a choice to make, one that could hopefully be made with the franchise's best long-term health in mind.