I’m not going to say that the Cubs trading for Zach Britton is a bad fit or a foolish rumor – clearly, they’ve checked in. I will say that, given my concerns about Britton’s health and productivity in 2017, and the fact that he’s going to be paid upwards of $13 million in 2018 before hitting free agency, I think a realistic trade offering is probably not something the Orioles are going to accept. You’d love to have Britton on the roster for 2018, because there’s a reasonable chance, with some rest, that he reverts to the overpowering guy he was in the three years before 2017. But you simply cannot justify giving up a whole lot in trade to acquire that *chance* and pay $13 million for the player.
To that end, I’m not surprised, and I am heartened, to see the latest from Patrick Mooney, where he strongly suggests that the Cubs aren’t going to be making a big play for Britton, having twice already traded impact youngsters for closers in the last 18 months.
Instead, Mooney indicates the Cubs’ preferred approach to picking up a back-end reliever will be via free agency, writing that “the Cubs have identified options like converted starter/setup guy Brandon Morrow …. The Cubs are also expected to monitor Addison Reed.” Moreover, like we discussed earlier this week, if his market doesn’t develop as hoped, the Cubs will keep in touch with Wade Davis.
And those are just some of the biggest names; although free agency overall is soft this year, that’s definitely not the case in the relief market, where there are scores of options, from the elite tier to the very solid tier to the buy-low tier.
The Cubs have previously been connected to Morrow, though his extensive injury history and heavy playoff usage might make you a little nervous about going beyond a pricey two-year commitment. We’ve written up Reed as a possibility for the Cubs, and there’s a whole lot to like, though his usage has always been really heavy.
Given the market, I really wouldn’t hate seeing the Cubs almost completely sit it out on the relief side until very late in the offseason, when they might be able to pick up three quality options for the price of two (either literally, or just “so to speak”). Or, I suppose, if you can convince your preferred target that there isn’t going to be a better offer for him if he waits too long, maybe you jump early on ONE guy to ensure you at least get one of your preferences, and then wait out the rest.
Morrow looked pretty incredible in the postseason, but the injury history makes me a little wary. I think if you can convince Reed to come on a three-year deal, that’s the route you go, and then you wait out the rest of the market. Or if Morrow can be had for two years at a solid annual rate, that’d be just fine, too.
I understand those are aggressive hopes, but you can look at the free agent list for yourself at MLBTR. There are almost too many interesting options to keep track (Duensing, Minor, Swarzak, Neshek, Cishek, Gregerson, Smith, Watson, Shaw, Nicasio, Kintzler, etc., etc., etc.). The Cubs can be a little pushy on their demands.