Being that the Chicago Cubs are among six to eight contenders that have been publicly connected to Orioles closer Zach Britton, this is notable:
When Machado is officially traded, Orioles could move quickly on Britton. Interest in him has picked up steam.
— Brittany Ghiroli (@Britt_Ghiroli) July 18, 2018
Although it may seem strange for a variety of reasons, time has shown that selling teams really do often operate in this way – focusing on completing one deal at a time, and not really aggressively working out another deal while the first one is wrapping up. Maybe it’s a matter of not wanting duplicate the returns, but I suppose it’s mostly about wanting the market to be defined at each stop of your sales bonanza. Unless you are going to package multiple players in the deal, best to trade one player, re-set the market, and then shop the next player to teams that might be all the more eager.
It’s yet another reason for Cubs fans to be keeping a close eye on the Machado deal, which should be completed with the Dodgers at any moment.
As for Britton, I’ve laid out my perspective on the Cubs’ interest and involvement, and why I think it makes plenty of sense for them to go after him:
[W]hatever team ultimately pays the highest price for Britton is going to be the team that believes he’s likely to keep getting better through the end of the year. Maybe that’s the Cubs, maybe it’s not. There are so many teams involved at this point.
The Cubs have been in on Britton for over a year now, which means they’ve got a really nice baseline for evaluation to work from with respect to his recovery from various injuries. I tend to trust that if he’s the guy they go after aggressively, then they have good reason to believe he’s a solid bet in the second half.
The Cubs have a very crowded bullpen picture, yes, and it could get even more crowded when the rotation fills back up and Mike Montgomery maybe goes back to the bullpen, or if Anthony Bass really is a guy and needs a job when he’s off the DL, or if guys like James Norwood and Dillon Maples really break out into studs (it happens every year to some huge-velo, huge-stuff relievers)). But July is the last chance to freely add players in trade without having to worry about waivers in August. It takes only a couple injuries and a couple underperformances to leave a stellar July bullpen looking nightmarish in August and September – when it might be too late to do anything about it.
Moreover, unlike some other spots on the roster, the bullpen is an area where you can add without really messing with playing time and roster construction unnecessarily. Even if it bumps a good reliever from the roster for the time being, that guy can return just a month later when rosters expand (or sooner if someone needs a blow).
If the Cubs like Britton and the scouts believe he’s getting “it” back – or if some other reliever deal looks right in isolation – then I am all for the Cubs pulling the trigger, and then figuring out how to make it work logistically later.