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D-backs, Orioles make sense as partners before trade deadline

(AP Photos)

As the trade deadline inches closer, pundits around baseball are speculating whether the Diamondbacks will make another move.

They already went out and acquired a big right-handed bat in J.D. Martinez, and some have said the D-backs might stand pat with their current roster as they make a push for the playoffs. If they did make another move, it could be to cement one of the back-end spots in the starting rotation, or it might be to add insurance in the form of a relief arm.

If the D-backs aim for a reliever, the Baltimore Orioles might be their best bet.

ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote that the D-backs are among teams that “should chase Zach Britton,” a 29-year-old left-hander who currently pitches for Baltimore:

“The D-Backs have some bullpen questions and Britton could be an upgrade over Fernando Rodney, who has a 5.40 ERA as the Arizona closer — and no one can doubt whether Arizona’s front office is committed to improvement. Earlier this week, Arizona’s new executive Mike Hazen made a deal for lefty crusher J.D. Martinez. But the D-Backs would have to outbid the Dodgers to land Britton.”

Olney also listed the Astros, Dodgers, Cubs, Red Sox and Nationals as potential suitors for Britton.

Entering play on Tuesday, the D-backs have the third-best bullpen ERA (3.48) in the National League behind the Cubs (3.44) and Dodgers (2.94). But still, as Olney notes, Rodney could be one of the greatest areas of concern for Arizona.

And Britton could help, as he has a 2.65 ERA in just 16 games this year as his season has been interrupted by injury. But he’s off the disabled list now, and proved in 2016 that he’s an elite bullpen arm when he put up an incredible 0.54 ERA in 69 games.

Britton hasn’t finished a season with an ERA above 2.00 since 2013.

But if another team outbid the D-backs, to whom would they turn? It could still be Baltimore, who may not only sell Britton, but also have major trade chips in Darren O’Day and Brad Brach as Ken Rosenthal pointed out.

O’Day, 34, was an All-Star in 2015 and has thrice posted a sub-two ERA for a season in his 10-year major league career. His 4.67 ERA in 2017 isn’t spectacular, but he’s a proven right-hander with an All-Star appearance to his name.

Then there’s Brach, a 31-year-old right-handed thrower who stands at 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds. He holds a 2.89 ERA over the last six seasons, including a 2.70 mark this year in 43 appearances. He averages 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings and has never had an ERA above four in a season (not counting his nine-game-long stint with the Padres in his debut season in 2011).

As Rosenthal notes, Britton (arbitration-eligible after this year), O’Day (signed through 2019) and Brach (arbitration-eligible after this year) are all under team control beyond 2017, which means they could be more than just a “rental” if the D-backs should trade for any of them.

And for that reason, the price could be a bit higher than a reliever on an expiring contract.

Still, the D-backs could benefit from further cementing their bullpen, particularly on the back end. If Arizona wants to get some insurance in late innings, they might look to Baltimore.

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