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Orioles looking for Zach Britton trade “as early as this week”

Just about every contending team has checked in on Zach Britton, with three reported favorites: Cubs, Astros, Red Sox. The Orioles could be looking to strike their next deal soon.

Texas Rangers v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

The Orioles still have nine days left to trade whoever they are going to trade and they may not take it down to the wire to get their next big deal done. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick and Buster Olney both reported over the weekend that the O’s are looking to get a Zach Britton trade done as soon as early in the coming week.

The serious suitors as the trade talks move towards a possible culmination, according to MASN’s Roch Kubatko, are the Cubs, Astros, and Red Sox. Fancred’s Jon Heyman added the Yankees and Dodgers to the list of teams who “seem serious” in a market that could potentially include the Brewers, Rockies, and Braves on the outskirts.

Britton at his best is capable of being a difference-maker to a bullpen, not necessarily just for a team that needs a closer. If a contender can line up an extra elite reliever to bolster its back end of the bullpen, that is worth something to them, so hopefully the O’s are able to strike a good bargain. A question that remains is whether teams believe Britton is at or near his best after last year’s forearm issues and this offseason’s Achilles surgery.

Olney reported that the O’s are seeking a similar return to what the Royals received when they traded closer Kelvin Herrera. That trade brought three prospects back from the Nationals to the Royals.

However, none of the three prospects were marquee guys, or even necessarily in the second tier of the Nationals system. The Royals received 23-year-old Double-A third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez, 21-year-old High-A outfielder Blake Perkins, and 17-year-old lottery ticket pitcher Yohanse Morel in that deal.

Gutierrez has an OPS of .685 for the season. Is he capable of better? Sure, maybe. But any acquisition of a 23-year-old where you have to hope he’s better than what he’s shown before now is not going to be an exciting one.

Perkins, a switch-hitting outfielder with a good defensive reputation, has displayed good on-base skills, posting a .366 OBP between both organizations this season, but with a slugging percentage of only .317, his likelihood of sustained success at higher levels is not high without further development of his power.

This return combined with what the Mets recently got back from the Athletics for their closer, Jeurys Familia, suggests that dreams of the O’s getting top 100 prospect talent for Britton may not be fulfilled. Whether they could get a better deal if they chip in some of the money left on Britton’s 2018 contract remains to be seen, as does whether they would do any such thing to get better prospects back.

Britton is not the only player in the trade rumor mill right now, as Kubatko also reported on Sunday that the Yankees, Brewers, and Braves have all checked in about Kevin Gausman. The Brewers and Braves also had some interest in Jonathan Schoop, and the Braves even asked about Dylan Bundy, too.

The O’s are in a position to extract value from their players who have team control beyond just this season as well. There was a lot made of Dan Duquette’s monologue about rebuilding in the aftermath of the Machado trade, but do the Orioles have the guts to acknowledge next year or the year after as lost seasons, too? If so, then they might be able to really restock the farm system. I won’t be holding my breath on this one.