BALTIMORE — Zach Britton has been with the Baltimore Orioles organization since he was 18. Now, Britton is 29 years old and regarded as one of the best relief pitchers in baseball, and he’s been rumored to be on the move as baseball’s trade deadline approaches — Chicago, Los Angeles or Washington, perhaps. But the trade talk doesn’t bother the two-time all-star.
“I’ve been here plenty of times now. I understand that the play on the field is the most important thing, and there’s a lot of things now with social media and things get out there that aren’t necessarily true, so you go with it, you don’t get sucked into it,” Britton said. “A lot of the times it can affect the things that you do out on the field if you get wrapped up in it. So I’m going to avoid it until something happens or doesn’t happen and move on.”
With the Orioles at 42-49, six games back of an American League wild-card berth, their chances of making the postseason are slipping. And with Britton under contract through 2018, a contender could have him for two postseason runs, likely fetching Baltimore a high price in return.
“Being a reliever, a lot things are different the way that guys move around, and if it happens then I’ll take it in stride,” Britton said.
The value of relief pitchers has risen the past few years. Last year, the Cubs traded for Aroldis Chapman — even though he was a free agent after 2016 — and gave the Yankees four players, including the 24-ranked prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline.
Britton would be a prize for whichever contender makes a move for him. In 2016, Britton recorded 47 saves and went 43-straight appearances without allowing an earned run. This season, he became the fifth pitcher in history to record 50-straight saves, recording his 54th straight save on April 14 vs. Toronto, a span that stretches back to last season. He then was sidelined by a left forearm strain for the rest of April, and he missed more time in May and June before returning July 5. He hasn’t recorded a save since April.
“Physically I feel great, I do, getting off the mound. I feel like there’s some rust I’m still shaking off, but overall I’m able to pitch effectively,” Britton said.