NEW YORK – The Phillies will see the Baltimore Orioles for the third time in less than two weeks when the teams play a makeup game at Camden Yards on Thursday.
And you know what that means.
More trade buzz between the teams.
Only now it's not about Manny Machado.
The Phillies' affection for Machado is well known and Baltimore's slugging shortstop/third baseman addressed the matter when he was in Philadelphia last week (see story).
At the moment, however, the Phillies find the asking price for Machado to be too steep. The Phils will keep lines of communication open with the Orioles, but their best shot of landing Machado might come in the offseason when he becomes a free agent.
In the meantime, there's another Oriole to keep an eye on.
According to a major league source, the Phillies have interest in closer Zach Britton and have spoken about him with Orioles officials.
Britton, a 30-year-old lefty, is a two-time All-Star who racked up 120 saves for the Orioles from 2014-2016. He led the American League with 47 saves in 2016 and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting that season. Britton saved 15 games in 2017 but was limited to 38 games because of a forearm injury.
In the offseason, Britton suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon. He returned to action in mid-June and has allowed six runs in 12 2/3 innings over his first 13 games. However, all of those runs came in two appearances and Britton has recently been quite effective, racking up five scoreless innings over his last five outings. Britton has given up just two hits and a walk over that span while striking out four and earning a win and a save.
Like Machado, Britton will be a free agent in the offseason. Phillies officials are not keen on giving up multiples of prospects for a rental player, but Britton's price will be lower than Machado's. Pretty much every team looking for relief help will have an interest in Britton, so the Orioles can afford to let his market develop. But the Phillies, who could possibly include Maikel Franco in a package, are in the running for him.
Britton, whose best pitch is a hard, sinking fastball, would be a good fit for the Phillies because he is a proven ninth-inning arm and that would allow manager Gabe Kapler to use power-armed Seranthony Dominguez as a high-leverage bullpen wild card as the second half of the season and the pennant race unfolds.