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Why the Orioles should listen to Zach Britton trade offers

Zach Britton's 47 saves led the American League in 2016 and the Orioles reliever has 120 saves in the last three seasons. Joseph Garnett Jr. /Getty Images

A question hanging over the Baltimore Orioles is whether they should deal from their bullpen depth, writes Roch Kubatko. From his story:

Executive vice president Dan Duquette is adamant that the Orioles aren’t trading closer Zach Britton. However, what about a team that wants Brad Brach or Mychal Givens, perhaps viewing them as potential ninth inning specialists?

The Orioles have holes to fill in right field and at designated hitter. They want a veteran catcher to improve their depth. They’re considering a right-handed bat to platoon with Hyun Soo Kim in left field. It’s not unreasonable to debate whether they should dip into their bullpen to address their needs.

Their relievers posted a 3.40 ERA that led the American League and ranked third in the majors behind the Dodgers (3.35) and Nationals (3.37). Meanwhile, the rotation showed improvement late in the season but still finished with a 4.72 ERA that ranked 13th in the league and 24th in the majors. Brach is arbitration-eligible again and projected by MLBTradeRumors.com to make $2.9 million next season after earning his first berth in the All-Star Game. He’s actually a bargain as prices keep rising for quality relievers.

The Cardinals reportedly are giving Brett Cecil $30.5 million over four years after his ERA rose from 2.48 to 3.93 and his WHIP from 0.957 to 1.282. Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen will do more than break the bank. They’re going to reduce it to a pile of dust.

Is anyone really sweating Britton’s projected $11.4 million salary?

My take on the Orioles is they’re more inclined to add to their strength. Protect the rotation by shortening the games, as more teams are doing.

(It’s easier in the playoffs, of course, due to the days off.)

Got a good bullpen? Make it great. Got a great ‘pen? Make it dominant.

The Orioles won’t ignore it despite more urgent needs in other areas. They’re open to acquiring another right-hander and a lefty who perhaps could be used as a specialist.

I’m still surprised that Britton didn’t warrant greater consideration for the American League Cy Young Award after he had arguably the greatest season ever for any reliever, amid a field of starting pitchers that lacked a slam-dunk, runaway candidate (with all due respect to Kate Upton).