As Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports, the Dodgers have interest in Orioles closer Zach Britton. Seeing as Los Angeles already has Kenley Jansen, arguably the best closer in the National League, a move to acquire Britton could give them one of the most imposing late-inning duos in the history of the game.
Britton, 29, had one of the greatest seasons ever by a reliever in 2016, posting a 0.54 ERA and 0.84 WHIP while going a perfect 47 for 47 in saves over 69 games. This season, he’s been held back by a left forearm strain but returned from the DL several days before the All-Star break. In 11 games, he’s posted a 2.25 ERA with a 1.75 WHIP. His streak of 54 consecutive saves, however, is still intact. Britton is making $11.3 million this season and will enter his final year of arbitration in 2018.
Jansen, meanwhile, is having an absolutely dominant season this year, posting a 0.96 ERA with a 0.56 WHIP, 57 strikeouts, and just two walks over 37.2 innings in 36 games. Assuming that Britton’s injury is now behind him, the Dodgers’ bullpen would be virtually unstoppable over the final two innings if they were able to combine Jansen and Britton’s efforts.
It’s unclear as to how the closer duties would be distributed if the Dodgers were to pull off a move for Britton. Since Jansen already has a five-year deal worth $80 million, though, he’d likely be the pitcher more willing to becoming a “fireman” and throwing innings other than the ninth. Jansen has already made nine multi-inning appearances this season, and he was praised for his ability to pitch in the middle innings during the 2016 postseason.
For what it’s worth, Jansen sounded more intrigued about sharing the bullpen with another elite closer than most closers would, telling Heyman that “you just gave me goose bumps” when the possibility of a trade for Britton was mentioned.
The Dodgers have plenty of prospects to package in a trade if they want to go out and get Britton. Most notably, their top position player prospect, outfielder Alex Verdugo, seems to be major-league ready but is buried behind guys like Joc Pederson, Cody Bellinger, Yasiel Puig, and Chris Taylor.