25 Sep 2020 5:22 PM +00:00

MLB Trade Rumors: Zach Britton headlining Orioles' fire sale

(Photo Credit: Keith Allison)

The Baltimore Orioles are far from finished despite just trading Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Closer Zach Britton has been dangled in several trade talks too, but GM Dan Duquette isn't done there. The latest rumors suggest Baltimore may be selling off other key members of the roster ahead of next week's July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

This would make sense as Baltimore is in a position where it needs to rebuild from the ground up and then some. That means selling off the most valuable assets piece by piece for young MLB-ready talent, with the rest happening through the farm system.

Strap in, baseball fans, and welcome to today's very Baltimore Orioles-centric Rumor Roundup!


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The scoop on Schoop

Second baseman Jonathan Schoop has endeared himself to the Baltimore fans since becoming a lineup fixture in 2014, slugging 101 home runs during his time in an Orioles uniform. The 26-year-old Dutchman has struggled this year, posting a meager line of .231/.264/.403 with just 12 home runs and 27 RBI. That's a big dip from last year when he hit .293 with 32 homers and 105 RBI.


Now, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, both the Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves have asked about Schoop in trade talks. Nothing seems to have progressed beyond both teams simply checking in, but Schoop and the Orioles did not even discuss a contract extension following last year's breakout campaign. Schoop is earning $8.5m this season and has one more year of arbitration attached, so Baltimore could theoretically ask for some decent prospects in a potential trade.

Except, the Orioles aren't operating from a position of strength this season. Moving Schoop would only be done so they wouldn't have to pay him a higher salary next year, and teams will not give up top prospects for someone having as bad a year as him, though Schoop is batting .352 in July.

That said, the Brewers could probably swap Jonathan Villar for Schoop straight up, but the Braves are a bit more complicated. They have Ozzie Albies firmly entrenched at second base, so the only reason for acquiring Schoop would be the hope he does well in hitter-friendly SunTrust Park. Either way, he is now a name to watch in the days leading up to the deadline.


Gausman and Bundy drawing interest

The Orioles are also looking to move a pair of arms in former first-round picks Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy. Kubatko noted the Brewers had inquired on Gausman, while the Braves were interested in both him and Bundy. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic also reported this morning that the Colorado Rockies have had a "longstanding interest."

Gausman has also been linked to the New York Yankees, per a report from Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun earlier this month, but nothing seems to have materialized from that.

Between the two, however, Bundy is the more attractive arm. He is 6-9 with a 4.57 ERA this season and has three years of team control left. Don't let his ERA fool you since it can be traced to him posting a 10.95 ERA in July. The 25-year-old has a high ceiling as a starter and his average career numbers can be attributed to him playing on struggling Orioles teams.

Gausman is a different story. He has struggled to find himself as a starter since debuting in 2013 and is 4-7 with a 4.33 ERA on the year. Granted, he has cut down his walks this season and has a career-best ground ball rate (GB%) of 46.7%, but Coors Field is a whole different animal than Camden Yards. Moving a pitcher with a history of control issues to the most hitter-friendly park in MLB isn't exactly a beneficial move, especially since Gausman has two years of team control left.


But the sad truth is that with the rebuild in full swing, at least one of Bundy and Gausman will probably be moved. Here's hoping the Orioles find a buyer that can help both pitchers get better as opposed to take a step back.


Zach Britton's market heating up

Finally, we come to Britton, who has yet to give up an earned run in July. The lefty closer has four saves and a 3.45 ERA since returning from a torn Achilles last month, and a plethora of teams are interested in acquiring him. Which teams? Well, where do I begin?

On Saturday night, Jon Heyman of Fancred reported at least six teams as being interested in Britton and added Sunday that the following teams had checked in: the Brewers, Rockies, Braves, Dodgers, Astros, Cubs, and Yankees. Jim Bowden of The Athletic later reported Houston as being "all in" on Britton, with Heyman adding them and the Cubs being in the lead with the Yankees "still trying."

Whew, OK, now for the analysis. Long story short, Zach Britton would be a blessing to any top contender's bullpen. His power sinker induces ground balls at a breakneck pace, and he's only 30, and two teams, in particular, could benefit greatly from his arm. Houston needs a more reliable closer with the ineffective Ken Giles recently optioned to the minors, while New York would use him as another piece of what could be a super-bullpen, a la the 2016 Cleveland Indians.

Britton could also see time as New York's closer, especially with Aroldis Chapman battling knee tendinitis that may have been the reason behind his ineffective performance Saturday, when he threw 19 pitches and only three for strikes.

Britton's market isn't cooling down anytime soon, so be sure to keep an eye on his name over the course of the week.