MLB Trade Deadline: Yankees’ latest pitching target is Zach Britton

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The theme of today in trade rumors is “everyone is after the same four guys and the next week is all about seeing who gets lucky in this market.” That’s truer for the Yankees more than almost every other team, who are five games back in the division and looking at an American League that has some of the best teams in the league at its top. If they want to keep up and sustain their current success, they know they need pitching help to do it.

The rumor

SNY’s Andy Martino reports that the Yankees are “expressing serious interest” in Orioles reliever Zach Britton. Martino says that while the Yankees are aggressive, they are not alone. Which isn’t surprising because, again, this is a pitching desert and everyone’s fighting for the same small pool of water.

Why it makes sense for the Orioles to trade Britton to the Yankees

If this weren’t the Orioles and the Yankees, it would primarily make sense for the Orioles to trade him because they’re on pace for a historically bad season and need to sell, sell, sell if they want to have any hopes of getting a legitimate rebuild going in the next few seasons.

Britton is their most valuable piece left, and now that they don’t have to try and package him with Manny Machado to increase a return, they can focus on this one asset only. There’s interest around the league and they could get at least a few decent pieces for him if they play their cards right.

But because it’s the Yankees, there are complications. As we covered in the Machado-to-the-Yankees rumor, ownership would have to override decades of tradition and stubbornness to make this happen. But times change, so it’s not out of the question.

Why it makes sense for the Yankees to trade for Britton

As noted, they are looking for pitching wherever they can find it. It’s not surprise they want Britton. Similar to Machado, he’d be a rental as his contract is up at the end of the season so they would have to give up less for him than they would for, say, Chris Archer who has multiple seasons left on his current deal.

Britton missed the start of the season with an achilles injury, but in 16 games since returning to the bullpen has put up a 4.43 FIP with 5.7 BB/9, 7.5 SO/9 and a 1.340 WHIP in 15.1 innings. Could be better, but the 122 ERA+ makes it look a lot more promising heading into the home stretch of the year.

His contract situation works for them heading into 2019 though and while their bullpen isn’t on the same level of tragedy that the Indians’ was before the Brad Hand trade, for example, the fact that Chasen Shreve is still kicking around New York says a lot about their depth in that area.

Rumor grade

D. It’s telling that the current reports have the Yankees aggressive and serious in these talks, which probably means that the reports are coming from inside Yankee Stadium. Martino being the one to break this rumor makes that even more likely — it’s not a trade deadline without some blatantly leaked rumors that benefit the Yankees and they pulled the same thing with the race for Machado. This is still the Yankees and Orioles we’re talking about, so this seems highly unlikely.

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