As we draw closer to the Trade Deadline, the storylines on the obvious trade pieces will continue to crystalize. On the Zach Britton front, two things are clear:
(1) Lots and lots of reports indicate that lots and lots of teams are interested and involved (though it’s not clear if those reports are all originating from the Orioles … ); and
(2) The Cubs and Astros, previous suitors, are frequently mentioned as “involved,” “serious,” etc.
To that end, it’s probably safe to upgrade that number two to some other kind of firm connective language, as now we have a report out of Baltimore (Brittany Ghiroli for Orioles.com) that indicates, “Multiple sources told MLB.com that the Astros and Cubs remain the most aggressive clubs for the lefty’s services.”
Since that’s coming out of Baltimore, I tend to think it either means the Orioles really want to apply pressure to a third team whose prospects they prefer, or it’s just true. Given the earlier reporting that had the Cubs and Astros as trying to “match up” on prospects, my best guess is that this is just true. The Cubs and Astros have probably put their cards on the table, and the Orioles are seeing what they can squeeze out of them in the final days before the Trade Deadline, and/or if they can get another team to beat what’s already out there.
On a reasonable deal, Britton remains an attractive roll-the-dice addition for the Cubs. You can’t assume you’re going to get 2016 Britton, who was one of the best relievers in recent memory. But you could certainly try to project how he’d perform in the second half with a fresh arm, a couple more ticks on his fastball, and some tightened up command.