It is the right Achilles on Britton. Surgery is the indicated course of treatment for now. Os still getting their arms around the injury. Found out last night.
— Brittany Ghiroli (@Britt_Ghiroli) December 20, 2017
Just as I was talking about how the Rays and Orioles getting worse would be a good thing for the Blue Jays (not exactly breaking news, I know), this happens. Orioles stud closer Zach Britton has suffered a ruptured Achilles Tendon and will undergo surgery immediately. The process will ultimately sideline him for four-to-six months.
When I was saying I hoped the Orioles got worse, I was hoping they would deal impending free agent Manny Machado to the National League. Or, even more hilarious, I was hoping veteran centre fielder Adam Jones would ask for a trade like he sort of indicated in this Twitter exchange recently. But obviously you never wish for somebody to suffer an injury. Never. Not even a member of the Trash Birds.
Britton was projected to earn $12.2M in arbitration by @mlbtraderumors. Eligible for free agency at the end of the 2019 season. Trade interest in him had increased of late due to prices of free-agent relievers. Now #Orioles stuck.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 20, 2017
But that’s what happened. And not only is it awful for Britton as an individual, it’s a terrible break for the O’s.
Britton had one of the best seasons for a reliever in baseball history back in 2016. He pitched 67 innings and picked up a league-leading 47 saves, putting up fantastic numbers like a 0.54 ERA, 9.9 SO/9, 5.1 H/9, and 0.1 HR/9 along the way. But, as we know, he didn’t get to pitch in the wild card game that year.
In 2017, Britton struggled with arm injuries and missed a decent chunk of the season. The Orioles struggled without Britton, as the usually-elite group of relievers were worth only 0.8 wins above replacement.
The Orioles qualified Britton this off-season and he’s set to go through the arbitration process for the final time. According to MLBTR, the star closer is projected to command $12.2 million in 2018. Now the O’s are likely to be on the hook for a good chunk of salary for a pitcher who’s effectiveness is totally up in the air.
Beyond missing Britton in the immediate future as a member of their team, the Orioles may have missed out on their best chance to recoup assets for their closer. The team appeared ready to deal Britton last summer at the trade deadline, but didn’t pull the trigger on a deal. Now he’s in his final control year and will be coming off surgery at some point in the middle of the season. Rather than getting the assets worth a year-and-a-half of one of baseball’s best relievers, a lefty to boot, the O’s are going to be, at best, dealing half a season of a pitcher coming off surgery who will likely only have a month or two of MLB pitching in 2018 under his belt.