By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Boston Red Sox are part of a crowded competition for dynamic Baltimore Orioles reliever Zach Britton ahead of the trade deadline. Jon Heyman of FanCred Sports is reporting that the Red Sox are in the mix along with the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs, and Atlanta Braves. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick later reported on Friday that the Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, and San Francisco Giants are also in contention.
Britton has a 3.68 ERA and four saves in 15 appearances with the Orioles so far in 2018, after returning from an Achilles injury in 2018. The Red Sox are clearly in the market for a reliever to pitch the eighth inning ahead of closer Craig Kimbrel, but also appear to be targeting a potential closer for beyond 2018. Britton wouldn’t fit the bill in terms of long-term control; like Kimbrel, he’s also set to become a free agent after the season.
Heyman mentioned the New York Mets’ Jeurys Familia and the Chicago White Sox’ Joakim Soria as good fits for the Sox’ needs. Plenty of other potential trade deadline targets around baseball could fit the bill.
Perhaps more intriguing is that the Orioles may have mutual interest in making a deal with the Red Sox. According to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo, the O’s are scouting the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs for potential prospects. Cafardo mentions third baseman Michael Chavis as “one of the players they’d like to watch”.
Chavis, the top-ranked prospect in the Red Sox system according to MLB Pipeline, is back from an 80-game suspension after he tested positive for a banned substance, but hasn’t played since July 14. Cafardo describes Chavis as “a little rusty”; he’s batting just .150 in five games with Portland this season.
Dave Dombrowski still has an uphill battle to outbid everyone else for Britton’s services. In addition to contending with almost all of their playoff rivals in the AL, several NL contenders (that have deeper farm systems) also stand in their way, and the O’s have a history of being reluctant to trade within the division.
Britton would be a big-time acquisition and fill exactly what the Red Sox need more than anything, but it’ll still be a tough move to pull off. The hope is that the Orioles’ scouts have been impressed enough by what the Red Sox have left in the system, which isn’t nearly as much as other teams in the mix. The Red Sox were already priced out of the sweepstakes for Brad Hand, who went from the Padres to the Indians on Thursday.
No matter who he brings in, Dombrowski is under a ton of pressure to add a viable piece to the bullpen and give the Red Sox the best possible chance at winning the World Series within the next 2-3 years.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.