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Phillies reportedly “very aggressive” on Zach Britton

Zach Britton has spent the bulk of his career with the Baltimore Orioles. (Keith Allison)

The Philadelphia Phillies weren’t able to land either Manny Machado or Zach Britton from the Baltimore Orioles prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Instead, the two ended up in the two biggest markets in the country; Los Angeles for Machado and New York for Britton. But both are free-agents now, and Matt Klentak’s front-office again appears to be seriously interested in the two former Baltimore Orioles teammates.

Machado is likely to visit Citizens Bank Park in the near future. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic says the Phillies are making a push to sign Britton, noting that while other clubs are still pursuing the lefty, the Phillies have been “very aggressive” in their attempt to land the soon-to-be 31-year-old.

Britton, a two-time All-Star, is coming off a peculiar 2018 season that he split with the Orioles and Yankees. After tearing his Achilles in the offseason, Britton didn’t appear in a game until mid-June. He wasn’t especially effective initially for the Orioles, posting a 6.23 ERA in June and a 4.44 FIP in 16 games for the O’s. However, after the Yankees acquired him, he did post a 2.88 ERA in 25 games (though that did come with a less-than-impressive 4.08 FIP). Britton didn’t find success in the postseason, allowing three earned runs in five innings.

Though the Phillies may have had a point in not wanting to meet the Seattle Mariners asking-price for Edwin Diaz, who ultimately was traded to the New York Mets, it left them in a position to bid over free-agents with much less certain futures. Britton’s 2018 season was very hard to evaluate. Andrew Miller, perhaps the decade’s most versatile reliever, struggled to stay healthy in 2018 and is 33. And Craig Kimbrel, after seemingly running out of gas in the postseason, is reportedly seeking a six-year deal.

Still, it feels the Phillies are in a situation where they have to acquire an established closer, even if there’s a level of risk involved. Manager Gabe Kapler liked to employ Seranthony Dominguez, a hard-throwing righty, in whatever the highest-leverage situation in the game was in 2018, even if that wasn’t the ninth inning. If that’s the plan moving forward, it seems very unlikely the Phillies will bet on a closer-by-committee in the event that Dominguez has been used before the ninth inning.

Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors projects that Britton will receive a three-year/$33 million free-agent contract.


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