The Orioles continued their fire sale after trading superstar Manny Machado, as they traded two-time all-star closer Zach Britton to the Yankees in exchange for pitching prospects Dillon Tate, Cody Carroll, and Josh Rogers. Britton, 30, has posted a 3.45 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, and 4.43 FIP since coming back from his Achilles injury that kept him out until mid-June. However, he hasn’t given up a run in seven innings in July, and his velocity is back up to 98 MPH (hence, the trade interest). Let’s take a closer look at this big trade.
From the Yankees perspective, this is the case of the rich getting richer. They already have the league’s best bullpen with a 2.75 ERA, and now they’ve added another dominant reliever to their stacked bullpen. They were lacking in a second dominant lefty after closer Aroldis Chapman, so this completes their bullpen. They were the best fit for Britton because they benefit greatly if he returns to his dominant form, but have a good enough bullpen to be fine if he doesn’t. Britton is a free agent at the end of the year, so this is mostly for this season as the Yankees probably will be focused upgrading other areas rather than their amazing bullpen this offseason. However, they didn’t give up any top 100 prospects or any of their top guys, as Tate is the headliner of the package and is just their 9th ranked prospects. Therefore, this a low risk-high reward trade for them, which makes this an excellent trade for them.
As for the Orioles, this is a disappointing return for them. There were 10 other teams interested in him (Astros, Giants, Brewers, Dbacks, Rockies, Cubs, Red Sox, Dodgers, Phillies, Braves), yet they didn’t land a single top 100 prospect. Maybe teams weren’t offering them up now, but they might have if the Orioles held on to Britton closer to the trade deadline. He hasn’t given up a run in July, so letting him have a couple more dominant outings may have boosted up his stock even more. Similar to the Mets with Jeurys Familia, the Orioles didn’t let the market fully develop for Britton. In fear that his stock couldn’t get higher, they settled on a deal they could have gotten even if they waited a little longer. Tate and Carroll are 24 and 25 respectively, so they don’t fit the Orioles window of future contention the way a 19 or 20-year-old prospect might have. Rogers is also 24 and isn’t even one of the Yankees’ top 30 prospects according to MLB.Com. This is a very small package for a reliever of Britton’s caliber.
I’ll give the Yankees an “A+” for getting their guy in Britton without overpaying for him. I’ll give the Orioles a “D-” for settling on older lower tier prospects that don’t fit their window of contention. Sure, Tate and Carroll may help Baltimore for a few years, but they’ll be in their 30s when the Orioles are likely to contend again. As for the Yankees, all three of these prospects would’ve needed to be protected from the Rule 5 draft, so they were extremely expendable. This is the second draft the Orioles have made where they’ve been ripped off and it’s hurting their rebuild dramatically.