Yankees Trade Rumors: NY Emerging as 'Clear Front-Runner' for O's Zach Britton

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJuly 25, 2018

Baltimore Orioles' Zach Britton throws against the Texas Rangers in the ninth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, July 14, 2018, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Gail Burton/Associated Press

The New York Yankees are reportedly the "clear front-runner" when it comes to landing Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Zach Britton in a trade with the July 31 non-waiver deadline approaching.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported the news Tuesday, noting the Yankees scratched right-handed pitcher Dillon Tate from his Double-A start. Rosenthal added more context to the Tate portion of the news:

Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal

Double A RHP Dillon Tate, #Yankees’ No. 9 prospect per @MLBPipeline will indeed headline Britton deal with #Orioles if completed, per source. Fourth overall pick by TEX in 2015, traded to NYY for Carlos Beltran at 2017 deadline.

What's more, Andy Martino of SNY.tv reported the two American League East teams were "close" to a trade involving Britton.

Jon Heyman of MLB Network added more details, noting the deal was "close to done" and would include "multiple prospects" from New York.

Britton was an All-Star in 2015 and 2016 and one of the best closers in baseball during that span. That was especially the case in 2016 when he posted a sparkling 0.54 ERA and 0.84 WHIP with 47 saves and 74 strikeouts in 67 innings.

However, he has dealt with injuries since and pitched a mere 37.1 innings in 2017 and 15.2 thus far this season. He has a 3.45 ERA and 1.34 WHIP this season as he attempts to rediscover his form as a dominant southpaw.

To his credit, Britton hasn't allowed a run in seven innings in July, and all six of the earned runs he's allowed this season since his debut on June 12 came in two ugly outings. He appears to be finding his touch on the mound again and would provide another talented left-handed arm in the backend of the Yankees bullpen alongside Aroldis Chapman.

Britton and Chapman pitching at their best would allow New York to shorten games in the postseason when the bullpen becomes all the more important.

It is not difficult to envision a formidable lineup with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton seizing early leads in playoff games, setting the table for Britton and Chapman to shut down opposing lineups.