20 December 2017

Time to Waive Zach Britton?

The Orioles were dealt a major blow yesterday.  While working out, Zach Britton ruptured his Achilles tendon, which requires six months of rehabilitation and probably an extended stay in the minors.  The Orioles are looking at their prized closer being gone maybe until August and, not only that, he will be a 12.2 MM hole in their payroll.

Last summer, Britton dealt with injuries that undermined his season and his trade value.  The Orioles banked on him rebounding and either delivering great performances down the stretch or at least rebuilding his trade value.  All that now is lost.  No one can blame the club for this unpredictable turn of events, but it does complicate their situation.  With Britton now coming back so late, what is the club to do.

Option 1
You keep Britton.  You rehabilitate him.  You hope he rebounds and either is a shot in the arm for a competitive Orioles team, a useful August trade piece, or a QO candidate that scores you a draft pick in 2019.

Option 2
You release Britton.  Britton is entitled to a quarter of his arbitration salary.  With a projection of 12.2 MM, that comes to 3.05 MM.  That gives the club an extra 9 MM to do whatever it pleases to do with that newfound cash.  Britton would probably not re-sign with the club.  He would probably sign a deal for five or so MM with the Cubs, Yankees, Astros, or Dodgers.  A club that would bet on him being ready down the line.

For me, option 2 is the way to go.  His appearance for a couple months at the end of the season is not enough of a boost for me to think his inclusion on the roster is worth it.  The 9 MM could be better allocated elsewhere.

Your thoughts?

15 comments:

Unknown said...

The Orioles clearly have no intent on spending big this year in free agency, so what's the point in saving the $12m in salary owed to Britton? You may as well allow Britton to rehab and then see if he can help the club in mid-July. He's still a potential asset if he can come back healthy.

Lincoln Steele said...

Drop him!

Tuck said...

Option 3, try to extend him using a framework similar to other injured pitchers signed this winter. 2 years, 12 mil or so. I think Rosenthal suggested this.

Anonymous said...

Extend him. Option 3. Give him a two year contract with a low first end this year (say $3M you have to pay anyway) and the full $12M for next year. Maybe even throw in a 3rd year option. That leaves you more money this year, a chance to rehab him, and the possibility of trading him next offseason.

Jon Shepherd said...

He already has 3 MM. So...you need to find something another team won't offer. I could see another team offering at least 2/10. As a FA he could press a little more.

Orioles would probably need to go 2/18-20 just to make him not test the market.

Boss61 said...

Three years, with 2018 as year one.

Year One - $5M. Club

Year Two - $7.5 M, doubling to $15M at 50 appearances or 50 innings pitched (whichever happens first). Player option after to void and declare free agency. Club can void if neither 25 appearances nor 25 innings pitched occurs.

Year Three - $10M base, and additional $5M if 50 or 50 as above.

Jon Shepherd said...

Devil's Advocate...
Orioles tend to max out payroll and only offer minimal bonuses. With this deal, they would have to carry a lot of dead money just in case.

Anonymous said...

However it works, I think the only way the O's can come out even a little ahead is with the extension. If you waive, you lose $3M and any sort of trade return if he gets healthy. If you hold then you lose over $9M this year while he rehabs. Braves in similar position last year after signing Sean Rod except that the Braves had just signed him to two years. Waited until he was healthy and then traded him back to the Pirates.

Jon Shepherd said...

Not exactly. Braves were on tap for whole money. Orioles do not have to be. Braves were stuck in a corner.

Unknown said...

It works out to the value of a compensatory pick.
We keep him, pay the 12.2, and worst case is he leaves and we get the comp pick.
Release him and save the 12.2, lose the pick.
The pick is probably mid-30s. If that's worth 12.3, then keep him.
But Dan released Miggy to save a bit, and traded two draft picks to save the salaries of Webb and Matusz.
I think they will keep Britton, and I think they should, but this is certainly a terrible turn of events.

Jon Shepherd said...

They save 9 MM.
Comp pick matters if Britton is able to command a QO. He may not with an ankle injury like that. Hard to see 18 MM for a single season work out on the market unless he is delivering.

O's Brose said...

Negotiate a one year extension with Britton where his salary for this year would be significantly reduced and payed forward more in 2019 to give him a year to build his value back up before he hits free agency. We could probably still survive if we traded Brach with Givens and O'Day holding down the back end of the bullpen until Britton returns. If Britton re-establishes his value then we'd be in the same situation we were in before he hurt his Achilles next off season. We could keep him to compete or trade him for prospects or trade him at the 2019 mid season deadline. If we trade him after the end of 2018 we would save significantly on his salary due to the new contract for the half year he gives us. If we trade Machado for a good cost controlled pitcher and use Machado's projected $17 million salary to sign a player like Moustakous or Frazier to a multi-year deal (expensive but leagues cheaper than a $300 million deal for Machado) as his replacement then we could actually be competitive next year and have at least 3 cost controlled starters. Then we end up with our usual Vargas type pitchers at the back end of the rotation. We're not getting 2 cost controlled starters for Machado in my personal view. This is less of a rebuild as a retool. Maybe we get a solid CF AA prospect as part of the Machado deal as well. He could have the potential to take Jones' place in 2019 of maybe Hays shows he can handle CF although he projects as a corner OF.

Unknown said...

Jon, Point taken. OK, I regretfully agree that letting him go is the best thing.
Matt thinks that I am too hard on Dan, but I strongly feel that rarely, very very rarely, does Dan do the best thing.

Unknown said...

I tend to agree with Roger. The only way Britton is still a potential asset is if he signs an extension. Otherwise you're just trying to minimize the liability. An Achilles tear on his plant foot should not be a career-threatening injury. If the team doctors think he's going to make a full recovery from last year's injuries - which actually worry me more long term - then I'd offer him something like 3/28. Obviously you are taking on more risk that way, but if Britton comes back and looks like 2014/2015 Britton he can bring back a really good prospect next offseason or be a way under-market closer for 2 years if the team refuses to rebuild. My immediate thought when I read the news was that he had to be offered a 3-year deal. Otherwise you're just letting one of your biggest potential assets go down the drain.

Unknown said...

Great message to send your team; we love your contributions but if you get injured working out in the off season we will hang you out to dry. Try to remember, an organization is comprised of many people and players. What does it say to them?