In laying out the steps that the Orioles will need to take to return to competitiveness after Wednesday night's trade of All-Star shortstop Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers, executive vice president Dan Duquette said the first would be to try to swap out the rest of their veteran players who can help other clubs for prospects.
The next step on that front? Trying to trade closer Zach Britton.
"Clubs have become more interested in Zach as he has regained his velocity and particularly, the sink and movement on his pitch," Duquette said. "He had a really good week this past week, so clubs have renewed their interest in Zach. We engaged other clubs on that front, but we're not as far down the road in the process, and I think that's partly because clubs were waiting to see how Zach was throwing, and exactly what role he could help on a pennant-contending team.
"I think Zach has re-established himself with his stuff as one of the top closers in the league. Now, we can turn our attention toward that."
Britton, who had offseason surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles in December and was back in the majors by mid-June, struggled some early with his velocity and command of his sinker. But over his past seven outings, Britton hasn't allowed a run and has struck out six against six base runners. His fastball has averaged 95.4 mph and topped out at 97 mph.
Duquette said Britton wouldn't be the only player who the Orioles would look to trade this month, with the focus being not on players with club control left beyond this year, but on those who are a few months from free agency. That list also includes Brad Brach, Adam Jones and Danny Valencia.
Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said the trade of Manny Machado was going to be the first step in an organizational rebuild that will include everything from expanded analytics and technology to more professional and international scouting efforts.
"Well, we're going to take a look at trading the veteran players," Duquette said. "Our veteran players have done a nice job for us, but the ones that are nearing free agency, I think that we need to evaluate our club going forward and at this time of year, the competitors are looking for the veteran players that have been seasoned in pennant races, as have our players. We're going to look to maximize that opportunity on the market and try to find as many good young players as we can to deepen our farm system.
"In conjuncture with that, we're also going to be making significant investments this offseason in technology, analytics. We're going to become more active on the international market, and invest in our facilities, and strengthen our overall baseball operation. That's part of a plan that we have to have to get the Orioles back to competitiveness. But this is just the first step in a new direction."