In a new Facebook post, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports that Orioles GM Dan Duquette has began “informing teams that he is willing to deal his top relievers (Zach Britton and Brad Brach) and outfielder Seth Smith.” But, there’s one big caveat: Duquette needs ownership’s approval, which isn’t easy to get from historically stingy principal owner Peter Angelos.
Rosenthal notes that Angelos has permitted a selloff just once since his first season as owner in 1993—and that was all the way back in 2000. And even if they sell, this will not be a huge teardown. The team is not willing to listen on struggling but still incredibly talented third baseman Manny Machado as well as center field mainstay Adam Jones, and they are also highly unlikely to deal multi-inning reliever Mychal Givens.
With those restrictions in mind, the best trade asset that the Birds have is most likely Britton. Injury has limited the sinkerballing lefty to just 12 appearances this season, and he’s yet to return to his former role as closer that is now occupied by Brach. Nevertheless, Britton’s permitted just three earned runs in his 13 innings of work, though he’s struck out only nine batters and allowed 17 hits and five walks; all that makes for a WHIP that’s over twice as high as last season’s. Britton is controlled for one more seasons via arbitration.
While Britton may return more value in a trade, it’s Brach who’s actually garnered interest from more teams, reports MASN’s Roch Kubatko. The righty has recorded 15 saves in Britton’s stead, posting a 9.6 K/9 and a sterling 0.864 WHIP. Brach’s in his age-31 season so he’s probably not going to get better from here, but he could most definitely thrive in a setup (if not closing) role for multiple more seasons. He, like Britton, is under team control through 2018.
Smith’s poor fielding and ineptitude against left-handed pitching depresses his value quite a bit, but he’s very good against righties, consistently posting OPSs over .800 against opposite-sided pitching. Smith is due just shy of $3.5M for the remainder of the season, and
Also mentioned in Rosenthal’s piece is catcher Welington Castillo and setup man Darren O’Day, with Castillo presumably the more likely to be traded due to his premium position and likelihood to hit the open market this offseason via declining his player option. O’Day has posted an uncharacteristically high 3.77 ERA since the beginning of last season, and he’s due over $21M through the 2019 season, in which he’ll be 36 years old.
Other players who the Orioles could entertain interest in but are not mentioned in Rosenthal’s post are All-Star second baseman Jonathan Schoop, currently installed as the team’s number three hitter with an .880 OPS, along with outfielder Hyun-soo Kim, who like Smith will hit free agency at the conclusion of this year’s campaign.