Bringing Back Britton
The market for relief pitching continues to be very active. Just days after the Phillies signed former Yankees’ reliever David Robertson to a two-year, $23 million contract, the Bombers’ locked up one of their own, inking Zach Britton to a three-year, $39 million deal.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Saturday evening that the two sides were progressing toward a deal, and within an hour an agreement had been reached.
Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the deal will include an opt-out clause after the 2020 season that Britton can invoke if the Yankees have yet to exercise their $13 million option for the 2022 season. That means that the southpaw will spend at least the next two seasons in New York, but could be there for as many as four years on this deal, in which he’d make up to $52 million.
The dominant left-handed reliever spent the first seven and a half years of his career with the Orioles before being acquired by the Yankees prior to last season’s trade deadline. Britton registered a 2.88 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 21/11 K/BB ratio over 25 innings with the Yankees. Since the beginning of the 2014 season, Britton’s 1.82 ERA is the best among all major league pitchers who have thrown at least 200 innings.
The owner of 142 saves in his big league career, Britton’s fantasy value would have been much higher had he landed elsewhere. He’d be considered the top option for saves in many bullpens around the league, but that’s not the case in New York where the Yankees already boast Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances.
By retaining Britton, the Yankees will once again boast one of the top bullpen units in all of baseball. The Yankees’ bullpen combined for a 3.38 ERA during the 2018 campaign, the fourth best mark in all of baseball.
He’ll be used in plenty of high-leverage situations, and should net himself a handful of saves over the course of the season, but he shouldn’t be counted on to shoulder a full closer’s workload.
The Angels were once again left out in the cold here, as they were considered one of the finalists to land Britton. They were in the same position earlier in the week when Robertson spurned them and signed with the Phillies. Either of the them would have likely stepped into the closer’s gig in Los Angeles and seen their fantasy value soar. Barring an outside addition, the battle for saves in the Halos’ bullpen looks to be wide open, with Cam Bedrosian, Ty Buttrey and Justin Anderson all believed to be in the mix.
Mets Making Deals
Mets’ new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has been extremely active in his first offseason on the job, and he made another savvy under-the-radar move on Saturday, acquiring outfielder Keon Broxton from the Brewers.
In return, the Brewers will receive a pair of promising bullpen arms. Bobby Wahl, who was acquired from the Athletics in the Jeurys Familia trade, has struggled in his short time at the big league level but posted a 2.20 ERA and 0.87 WHIP with 73 strikeouts in 45 innings at Triple-A last season. He should compete for a spot in the Brewers’ Opening Day bullpen.
The Brewers also land right-hander Adam Hill, who was the Mets’ fourth-round selection from the 2018 draft. The 21-year-old compiled a 2.35 ERA, 1.50 WHIP and 26/7 K/BB ratio in 15 ⅓ innings at Low-A Brooklyn in his first taste of professional baseball last season.
In addition to the two arms, the Brewers also receive minor league infielder Felix Valerio. The toolsy 18-year-old slashed .319/.409/.433 with three homers, 22 RBI and 16 stolen bases in 67 games last season in the Dominican Summer League.
The real winner here though from a fantasy perspective, is Broxton. The 28-year-old is a tremendously skilled defender, which should provide him the opportunity to secure everyday at-bats as the club’s starting center fielder, provided he can supplant Juan Lagares.
Lagares is well-known for his defensive chops as well, but what should give Broxton the edge is with his ability at the plate. During his breakout 2017 season, he clubbed 20 homers and swiped 21 bases in only 463 plate appearances. Despite his strong finish to the 2017 season, the Brewers went out and acquired Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich prior to the start of the 2018 season, which relegated Broxton back to Triple-A. He only saw 89 sporadic plate appearances with the big league club over the course of the season. At Triple-A, he slashed .254/.323/.421 with 10 homers, 37 RBI and 27 stolen bases in only 82 games.
Sure, he swings and misses too much and is likely to hit for a poor batting average, but his combination of power and speed make him very relevant from a mixed league perspective. Prior to the deal, Broxton’s ADP sat outside the top 625 players overall. With this news, it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see him surge into the top 400, if not higher.
Broxton wasn’t the only major acquisition for Van Wagenen and company over the weekend though. On Sunday, the Mets swung a deal with the Houston Astros, picking up J.D. Davis and minor league infielder Cody Bohanek in exchange for minor leaguers OF Ross Adolph, 2B Luis Santana and C Scott Manea.
Davis, 25, is a former top prospect who bashed his way through the minors before struggling to adapt to the majors. Davis can play third base, first base and corner outfield. He was blocked at all of his natural positions in Houston and will presumably have a better shot at playing time with the Mets. He owns a career line of .194/.260/.321 with five home runs and 12 RBI in 181 major league plate appearances. His career minor league slash line is .292/.362/.521 with 105 home runs in four seasons.
Van Wagenen wasn’t finished though. Shortly after the Davis deal was announced, news broke that the Mets had shipped third catcher Kevin Plawecki to the Indians in exchange for right-hander Walker Lockett and minor league infielder Sam Haggerty.
Plawecki became the odd-man out in New York after signing Wilson Ramos in December, but he should compete with Roberto Perez for the starting gig in Cleveland. A career .218/.308/.330 hitter at the big league level, Plawecki won’t be a very attractive fantasy commodity in Cleveland, even if he does wind up with the lion’s share of the playing time behind the dish.
As far as Lockett goes, this is the second time this winter that he has been dealt. He was traded from the Padres to the Indians for minor league right-hander Ignacio Feliz in November and now is on the move to the Mets.
Lockett made his major league debut with the Padres last year and it did not go well at all -- he went 0-3 with a 9.60 ERA in four games (three starts). He struck out 12 batters, walked 10 and gave up four home runs in just 15 innings. He spent most of the last three years with the Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas and registered a 4.62 ERA in 36 starts in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. The 24-year-old right-hander will battle for a slot at the back of the Mets' rotation in spring training but is likely to start the season back in the minors.
Quick Hits: Jon Heyman of Fancred notes that the free agent market is “starting to heat up” for Brian Dozier. The Rockies are one team that has interest, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com, but only on a short-term deal...The Giants acquired infielder Breyvic Valera from the Orioles for cash considerations...Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Mets are considering signing veteran right-hander Josh Tomlin. He also notes they’re considering left-hander Derek Holland as well as they scrape the bottom of the barrel for rotation depth… Jon Heyman of Fancred notes that Troy Tulowitzki’s one-year deal with the Yankees includes a full no-trade clause… Heyman also notes that the Rangers are considering making a run at former Rockies’ reliever Adam Ottavino to bolster their bullpen… The Mets signed veteran left-hander Hector Santiago to a minor league contract which will presumably include an invitation to big league camp… The Yankees signed speedster Billy Burns to a minor league deal… Mariners’ general manager Jerry Dipoto confirmed that Ichiro Suzuki will be on the club’s roster for their March 20-21 series in Japan versus the Athletics as long as he is healthy. Those games are likely to be the final games in Suzuki’s Hall of Fame career, and will also push his eventual induction into the Hall back an additional year… According to Scott Merkin of MLB.com, Avisail Garcia remains “in the picture” for the White Sox… Indians’ skipper Terry Francona admitted that Danny Salazar (shoulder) will not be ready for the start of the regular season… The Royals’ re-signed Kyle Zimmer to a one-year contract. The former top prospect is expected to work out of the team’s bullpen and he’ll earn $555,000 if on the big league roster… The Dodgers added some minor league outfield depth, picking up Paulo Orlando and Cameron Perkins… The Brewers officially announced their one-year, $1.2 million deal with Cory Spangenberg… Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Friday that CC Sabathia's heart surgery last month slowed trade talks involving Sonny Gray… The Rays acquired Oliver Drake from the Blue Jays for cash considerations… Brian McTaggart of MLB.com says the Astros could have interest in acquiring Blue Jays’ right-hander Marcus Stroman.