The Orioles came into the day of the trade deadline with every report saying that they weren’t going to deal closer Zach Britton anywhere unless some other team met their high price. In the end, no one met their price. Britton remains an Oriole, as does anybody else you might have imagined going on the trade block when the Orioles hit the doldrums in June.
There were believed to be three big suitors for Britton: The Dodgers, the Astros, and the Indians. All three of these teams acquired relielvers on Monday afternoon. Britton, however, stayed put.
Cleveland picked up Joe Smith from the Blue Jays. The Astros landed Francisco Liriano, also from the Blue Jays. He’s expected to be used in relief with Houston, possibly as a lefty specialist.
The Dodgers, who had been believed to be the most interested in Britton, instead traded for Pirates reliever Tony Watson, who is noteworthy for having a 1.521 WHIP in the 2017 season. They also acquired a second reliever named Tony: Tony Cingrani of the Reds, who also isn’t good this year. He hasn’t been good since 2013.
None of those guys are anywhere near as good as Britton can be. Yet it seems that in the end, the important thing was that none of them will cost what Britton would cost to those teams. Between any possible concerns over Britton’s health, performance, and salary for this year and next weighed against the downsides of those factors, the teams just weren’t willing to pay the price.
We’re never going to know what were the best offers that GM Dan Duquette turned down before the deadline. It might even be possible that there was an offer that Duquette liked that did not pass muster with Orioles owner Peter Angelos. Ken Rosenthal, who in fairness seldom misses up a chance to bring Angelos into a story, suggested that the owner wouldn’t approve a deal unless the return was big enough.
Others who might have been expected to be marquee acquisitions included Rangers starter Yu Darvish and Padres reliever Brad Hand. The Padres ended up holding onto Hand. Darvish, though, was dealt, also to the Dodgers, with the news not trickling out until after the 4pm deadline had passed. The other big move across the league was the Yankees picking up Sonny Gray from the Athletics.
There might be the chance of an August trade of someone like Seth Smith or Welington Castillo, but this certainly closes the door on any significant move being made before the offseason.
For better or worse, the Orioles are going to have to go forward with the squad they have for the rest of the year and next season, then on into an uncertain future beyond that without any prospects they might have gotten from deals that weren’t made today.
I’m not sad that I don’t have to write a “Zach Britton is leaving the Orioles” article today, but I fear that sooner than any of us would like, we’re going to be looking back on today and wishing that the Orioles had gotten something for him while they had the chance.