One of the big prizes in the 2018 Major League Baseball trade deadline sweepstakes appears close to finally switching teams, as the contest for two-time All-Star Baltimore Orioles reliever Zac Britton is now rumored to be down to just four teams, according to a report by ESPN baseball correspondent Jerry Crasnick, who posted the information on his Twitter account Tuesday.
Those four teams still in the hunt for Britton, who has pitched in just 16 games this season since returning from the disabled list where he was rehabbing an Achilles tendon injury, according to WEEI, are reported by Crasnick to be the Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros, New York Yankees, and the one National League club in the hunt for Britton, the Chicago Cubs.
UPDATE 9:45 p.m. EDT: The New York Yankees emerged as the winners in the Zach Britton sweepstakes, sending three minor leaguers including ninth-ranked prospect Dillon Tate to Baltimore in exchange for Britton, according to CBS Sports. The Yankees also included their 15th-ranked prospect, reliever Cody Carroll. Rogers, another pitcher, is not ranked among New York’s top 30 prospects. Britton is eleigible to become a free agent after the conclusion of the 2018 season.
The Inquisitr reported last week that the Red Sox were in serious pursuit of the 30-year-old Britton, who was named to the American League All Star team in 2015 and 2016, when Britton was perhaps the dominant closer in either league. Britton recorded a Major League leading 47 saves in 2016, after notching 36 in 2015 and 37 the season before that, Baseball Reference notes. The Orioles were reported to be scouting Michael Chavis, the top-rated prospect in Boston’s minor league system, in anticipation of a deal for Britton.
Britton appears to be on the mend from his injury, with his fastball velocity rising above 95 miles per hour, peaking at 96.1 in an appearance against the Texas Rangers on July 14, according to Fangraphs.
Britton has not allowed a run in his last eight appearances, covering eight innings, with three hits and six strikeouts, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney. A four-walk total in those eight innings appears to be his only area of weakness as he attempts to get back on track after the injury.
But Crasnick reported that both the Yankees and Astros have “sweetened” their offers for Britton over the past “day or two,” but the reporter did not specify what either team did to “sweeten” the prospective deals.
But Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, on his Twitter feed, reported that the Yankees were offering 24-year-old right-handed pitcher Dillon Tate, their ninth-ranked prospect, in a deal for Britton. Tate was the fourth overall pick, taken by the Texas Rangers, in 2015. The Rangers dealt Tate to the Yankees for Carlos Beltran at last season’s trade deadline.