Philadelphia Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said Wednesday that while he thinks his club can make the playoffs as currently constructed, his impression is that the Phillies will make a trade before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
It’s possible that trade could involve a bullpen upgrade, with Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reporting that the Phillies have discussed two-time All-Star closer Zach Britton with the Baltimore Orioles:
According to a major league source, the Phillies have interest in closer Zach Britton and have spoken about him with Orioles officials.
While Britton is a two-time All-Star, the Phillies would be buying relatively low on the 30-year-old. Though there figures to be a market for Britton – the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox have both been connected to him – he tore his Achilles this past offseason. Britton didn’t make his season debut until June 12, and two rather disastrous relief appearances in his first few weeks back have his ERA at 4.26 and FIP at 4.31. With that said, Britton has allowed just two hits in four appearances in July. In 11 of his first 13 appearances this season, he’s allowed one hit or less and zero runs.
The Phillies would be acquiring Britton as a rental to sure up a bullpen that’s been much-maligned in 2018. However, with Edubray Ramos and Pat Neshek recently returning from injuries – and Luis Garcia likely not far behind them – the addition of Britton would give the Phillies a rather scary bullpen as they compete to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Britton would become the team’s closer, allowing star rookie Seranthony Dominguez to be used in whatever the highest-leverage situation is between the sixth and eighth innings.
While Britton is a free-agent-to-be, general manager Matt Klentak likely would be acquiring Britton with the thought of him pitching for the Phillies beyond the conclusion of the 2018 season. Jon Heyman, writing for FRS Sports, said all the way back in March of 2017 that there was speculation around the league that the Phillies front-office – headed by former Orioles executives Klentak, Ned Rice and Andy MacPhail – could sign Britton after the 2018 season. It’s possible that the club acquires him sooner than expected and retains him this offseason if he pitches well down the stretch.