Since the beginning of the winter meetings last week, many Baltimore Orioles fans have been talking about the possibility of the team trading closer Zach Britton. Unequicovally, I think that would be a mistake on several fronts. But that’s just my view.
The idea of course is that the Orioles won’t be able to re-sign Britton when his contract is up in 2019. So if they traded him now, they’d get a king’s ransom in return since his value is higher than it ever would be. And there’s no arguing that, because the guy’s coming of of a year when he saved 47 straight games.
However the Orioles are often told that they over-value their players. I actually think it’s the opposite, and other teams are under-valuing the Orioles’ players. Or pretending to at least in hopes of getting them cheap. However the thing with Britton is that as gifted as a closer as he is, he only pitches one inning a game. So what exactly could the Orioles hope to get in return?
Aside from what they could get, I still think it would be a mistake. And in fact, it doesn’t appear that Britton is for sale. When you have a closer of his caliber, you don’t trade him. There’s no question that he won’t come cheap in 2019 – that goes without saying. However you’re all but admitting defeat before you even get started if you do that.
Furthermore, the Orioles hoped for years and years that they could “be good.” Now they’re good, and fans seem to want them to trade their pieces away. Again, I understand the sentiment, and I recognize that those who feel this way think that the Orioles would be improving for the future if they did it. That goes without saying, and yes you perpetually need to ensure the security of your future in this business.
However at some point you also have to realize when you “are good.” That’s where the Orioles are right now. If you start trading pieces looking towards the future, one of two things will happen. Either those prospects won’t pan out, or they will. And if they do, in five or six years you might find yourself back in this spot. So…in essence you simply defered your shot at a World Series.
What the O’s need to do is go for it now – while Britton and company are still under contract. Let’s go back to the idea of getting prospects in return; what if they don’t pan out? That’s the risk in all trades – and if that happens, well…you’re up a creek without a paddle.