There it is, another piece of the Orioles rebuild is complete. The Orioles have agreed to trade Zach Britton to the Yankees for a handful of prospects. This is a huge move for New York as they add Britton to an already dominant bullpen. This also shows the Orioles are rebuilding and it’s a new era for them. A few years Peter and Co wouldn’t have even dared to trade a big piece to the Yankees, now it doesn’t matter who they are trading with, it all depends on the package they got back. A number of clubs were interested in the lefty, Astros, Cubs, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, and Brewers to name a few.
Righty, Dillion Tate is the big piece the Yankees are sending over to Baltimore. Ears started to perk up today when Tate was scratched from his Double A start after he came off the DL. Tate was picked fourth overall in the 2015 draft by Texas, and then was moved to NY during the Carlos Beltran trade in 2017. Take a look at Tate’s stats from 2018 in Double A, 5-2 record with a 3.38 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 75 Ks, 25 walks in 82.2 innings. Overall, he looks pretty good, but honestly, the Orioles can’t develop pitching worth crap, so we’ll have to see how the Orioles handle the Yankees number 9 (I’ve also seen him ranked 6th) overall prospect. Tate excites me, a young guy with a live arm that the Orioles can work on and inject him into the rotation or maybe the bullpen pretty soon, along with the other young arms they have. The other prospects in the deal are lefty, Josh Rogers and Triple A reliever, Cody Carroll. They seem like legit prospects as well. That makes 8 total players the Orioles will receive for 2 rentals. Not too shabby.
Britton was a HUGE part of the Orioles 2014 season as he went from a guy who had to make the team out of Spring Training because he was out of options and turned into one of the most dominant closers in the last few years. His stretch from 2014 to 2017 is one of the best we’ve seen. His 2016 season was the big record breaking one, easily one of the most fun guys to watch when he was on the mound. He would just throw these bowling balls that no one could touch. And if they did touch it, it was a weak grounder. He holds the AL record for most consecutive saves from September 20, 2015 to August 23, 2017, a stretch of 60 games without a blown save. Hell of an achievement when you realize how much the Orioles play the Red Sox and Yankees.
A 2 time All Star, Britton was god awful as a starter here in Baltimore. Just take a look above at his splits from starter and reliever. In 2014 he was out of options, and had to make the club out of Spring Training. He did that, and eventually took over the closing spot from Tommy Hunter. Britton would go on to save 37 games in 41 opportunities with an ERA of 1.65, and a WHIP of 0.904. 2015 he was a beast again and named an All Star. That season he saved 36 games in 40 chances with an ERA of 1.92 and a WHIP of 0.990. 2016 was the big record setting year for Zach as he established himself as the most dominant reliever of that season. 47 saves in 47 chances, an ERA of 0.54. You read that correctly. His WHIP was 0.836, he only gave up 38 hits in 67 innings, 7 runs in total, 4 earned runs, 1 home run, and 74 Ks. He was absolutely untouchable. He was throwing his sinker, and there was nothing you could do about it. It was the best season by any closer EVER.
In 2017 he battled injuries, and never turned into the pitcher we saw in the years past. He was still almost dealt to the Astros at the deadline, but the Orioles pulled back with minutes to spare. He still managed to save 15 games with a 2.89 ERA. As is tradition, he tore his right Achilles Tendon in December while working out. All along he mentioned being ready before the All Star break, and he was right on target with it. Britton made his 2018 debut on June 12th, and after a few rocky first appearances, he looks like his old self. Since June 27th, has only given up 3 hits since, 0 runs, 4 walks, and 6 Ks. Most importantly, his velocity is back up. He is fully healthy, and back to the hard sinker throwing Britton we know and love.
The big thing with Zach was obviously the 2016 Wild Card game in Toronto. He was left in the bullpen when it was a tie game, Ubaldo comes in and gives up a home run to Edwin Encarnacion that still hasn’t landed. Why was the best reliever in the world left in the bullpen? We’ll never know. Buck butchered that one, and it was that exact moment the Orioles window closed. It bottles my mind to this very day.
Best of luck in pinstripes, Zach. That bullpen up north is scary. It makes sense for New York as well because it keeps Britton away from Houston and Boston. I wish I could say how upset I am, but after Manny was traded, this doesn’t hurt. I am numb. The Orioles are rebuilding, so I have to start welcoming 24 year old men into my life instead of the guys I’ve known for years.
I look forward to seeing many Yankee jerseys with “Britton” on the back of them the next time the Yankees make their way to Baltimore. No word on if Britton will pitch in the wild card game.