It has been reported by MLB.com’s executive baseball reporter Mark Feinsand that the Cubs are interested in last Baltimore Orioles reliever Zach Britton.
This does come with some risk as Britton was shut down earlier this year and placed on the 45-60 day disabled list with a forearm strain. This is both good and bad as it makes Britton a possibility at a relatively lower cost than it would normally cost you to get a reliever of Britton’s ability. However, on the other hand, there’s a reason why he’s available if in fact, he is as reported and an even bigger reason why it won’t cost you a top flight prospect as Aroldis Chapman did in the form of MLB’s top prospect at the time, short stop Gleyber Torres a year ago.
This would be a big addition as it adds another right handed power arm to the pen to pitch high leverage innings to set up closer Wade Davis.
It has been an adventure at times with Carlos Rondon, Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop and lately even usually reliable Koji Uehara trying to produce in those high leverage roles.
There are some options in the Minors where the Cubs can add to the pen from their current 40 man roster in the form of guys like Felix Pena, Pierce Johnson, Jose Rosario, Aaron Brooks, Spencer Patton, Caleb Smith, Rob Zastryzny, Jack Leathersich, Alec Mills, Duane Underwood, Gerardo Concepcion, Jake Buchanan, Conor Mullee and finally Dylan Floro. Some of which have been on the big league club this season in stints with minimal degrees of success and failure. However, none of these pitchers offer the possible dominance of Britton if he is indeed fully healthy.
There are also a few lower level players like Trevor Clifton and Dillon Maples who may be in line for promotions and possibly added to the 40 man roster in time for post season considerations, but this late in the game is a long shot.
It appears the best way for the Cubs to add to the pen for a post season run would be in the trade market and Britton offers a high payoff possibility for now and the future which can work in the Cubs favor as Britton has one more arbitration season left in 2018 and has underperformed thus far with a very high Whip north of 1.70 in spite of an ERA just below 2.00 currently at 1.98. It could very well even be ruled lower in arbitration than the current 11,400,000 if not far off from his 2017 contract.
This may provide cover for the Cubs in 2018 as their current closer Davis becomes an unrestricted Free agent in 2018. One more interesting development to keep a close eye on.