A week after dealing shortstop Manny Machado to signal the official start of a much-needed rebuild, the Orioles have traded another former All-Star selection set to become a free agent at the end of the season.
Baltimore sent closer Zach Britton to the New York Yankees in exchange for three minor-league pitchers on Tuesday night. Right-handed starter Dillon Tate headlines a return that also includes left-handed starter Josh Rogers and right-handed reliever Cody Carroll.
Britton remained in the Orioles bullpen during Tuesday’s game against Boston, but he didn’t pitch the ninth inning as Brad Brach instead recorded the save in the 7-6 win over the Red Sox. He met with reporters after the deal was announced shortly before midnight.
Ranked as the Yankees’ ninth-best prospect by MLB Pipeline, Tate was the fourth overall pick of the Texas Rangers in the 2015 draft. New York acquired the 24-year-old in a trade that sent Carlos Beltran to the Rangers in 2016, but he’s dealt with shoulder issues and has not pitched above Double-A Trenton in his professional career. In 82 2/3 innings for the Thunder this season, Tate owns a 3.38 ERA and has struck out 8.2 batters per nine innings while walking 2.7 per nine.
The 24-year-old Rogers was New York’s 11th-round pick of the 2015 draft. He’s pitched to a 3.95 ERA in 109 1/3 innings for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season.
Carroll, 25, owns a 2.38 ERA in 41 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level and has struck out 11.9 while walking 3.9 per nine innings.
Trading Britton for anything of value appeared unlikely in December when he suffered a torn Achilles tendon during an offseason workout. The 30-year-old returned to action by mid-June and struggled initially, but the velocity and movement on his sinker have steadily improved as he’s sat between 95 and 96 miles per hour over his last six outings. Britton owns a 3.45 ERA with four saves in 15 2/3 innings this season.
The Yankees hope Britton will only strengthen what’s already been the best bullpen in the majors in 2018. The lefty had arguably the greatest season ever for a relief pitcher in 2016 when he posted a microscopic 0.54 ERA in 67 innings and went a perfect 47-for-47 in save opportunities. He was named to the American League All-Star team that season and in 2015 and ranks second behind Gregg Olson on Baltimore’s all-time saves list.