With the nonwaiver trade deadline two weeks away and the Orioles subject of much speculation that their two-month slide to the basement of the American League East might set off a sale of their valuable pieces, two names at the center of that addressed the possibility that they might not be Orioles for much longer.
Late-inning relievers Zach Britton and Brad Brach carry plenty of value with team control through 2018 and closer experience of varying degrees, and have been linked to plenty of trade talk. Both said they don’t want to leave Baltimore and hope things could turn around for the club, but know it’s out of their control.
“There’s not a whole lot I can do,” Britton said Monday. “I don’t make those decisions. For me, coming off of the [forearm] injury, it’s just about getting the innings and performing when I get out there. My mindset hasn’t changed regardless of where we are in the organization. If we’re going to acquire guys, we’re going to sell guys, it doesn’t affect me either way. I need to go out there and do what I need to to help this team win as long as I’m here.”
Added Brach: “I haven’t really tried to think about it. I don’t want to think about it too much. I'm trying to go out there and take it one pitch at a time. That’s all I try to do. Honestly, there’s really no way to navigate it. If they end up making a trade, there’s nothing I can really do about it. All I can really worry about is pitching.”
Britton’s forearm injury has cost him over two months, though he’s rounding back into form since returning July 5 and has allowed three runs in 14 innings this year, though his 1.714 WHIP is abnormally high. Brach, who like Britton was an All-Star last year, has a 2.75 ERA with 15 saves.
Both, however, acknowledged that the team isn’t meeting expectations, and that has fueled the trade speculation. At 42-49 entering Monday night, the Orioles are 5 1/2 games out of the second American League wild card with five teams between them and that last playoff spot.
“I think we expect a lot better of ourselves right now, and unfortunately, we’re not playing to that level, a lot of guys — and myself included in there,” Britton said. “All we can do is try to start today and play the baseball we’re capable of playing and go from there. Standings are where they are at this point. You’ve got to be realistic about where we are, but it doesn’t mean we can’t get on a nice stretch and win some ballgames.”
That’s the hope for both. Brach pointed to the fact that most of the team’s core is under contract through next year, which makes it more attractive for them to be trade fodder. Britton, Brach, third baseman Manny Machado and center fielder Adam Jones all qualify for that distinction.
But Britton and Brach don’t want to go anywhere.
“I’ve been here since I was 18. I’m not in any rush to go anywhere,” Britton said. “It’s not my decision. I understand that now, being a reliever, a lot of things are different, the way guys move around. If it happens, I’ll take it in stride, but I’ve been here since I was 18 years old so I don’t know any other place than this organization.”
Said Brach: “I’ve really enjoyed being here, and I think there’s a lot of talent here. Everybody has contracts through next year, so I think it’s kind of a down couple weeks or months we’ve had, and anytime we can turn it around. Obviously, I’d love to stick around here, but it’s not up to me. I just have to go out there and do my job and wherever the chips fall in the next couple of weeks, it’s going to happen.”