The Dodgers Should Consider Buying Low on Zach Britton

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 23: Zach Britton
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 23: Zach Britton /

The baseball world was shaken when it was announced Zach Britton ruptured his Achilles. Even with the injury, the Dodgers should consider buying low on him.

If you haven’t heard the news, then let it be known that baseball’s trade market just had an unpredictable variable enter the equation. All-Star closer Zach Britton will be missing an extended period of time after injuring his Achilles.

First and foremost, it’s sad to see any player get a severe injury like this, let alone a star player. His absence further dampens whatever hope the Baltimore Orioles had at success this season and further motivates them to trade star third baseman, Manny Machado.

Britton’s loss not only hurts his value but you can argue hurt’s Machado’s as well, but mainly for the fact that it was known the Orioles didn’t plan on competing and announced that Machado was available. And with the injury, they have no incentive of holding onto their core players, making it easier to negotiate, especially since Machado is a free agent after 2018. But with Machado not being a target of interest, the Dodgers should continue their rumored interest in the left-handed closer instead.

Yes, there is virtually no point to trade for an injured player, especially one who is out at least 189 days and will be entering his walk year. But this is the time for the Dodgers to capitalize and buy low because Britton’s value will never be lower.

That six-month window puts him to a mid-to-late June return at the earliest. But it might be more. But even then, if he were to return by, let’s say, August, that would be about eight months missed and give him enough time to shake some rust off in time for another hopefull deep playoff run.

If eight months seems too short, let’s take a look at another star player who suffered a devastating Achilles injury: Kobe Bryant. Now Britton is nowhere near his level, and we have yet to know whether he has Kobe’s out-of-this-world pain threshold, but it’s still good to know his road back.

Bryant tore his tendon on April 12, 2013, and had surgery the next day. He was back running and jumping in August, four months after surgery. He made his return to the practice court that November, seven months from surgery. Some teammates felt that if he wanted to, he could have played at the end of November, but the Laker legend ultimately made his debut on December 8, 2013, just under eight months from when he had surgery.

And you have to take into account the higher physical demands playing basketball requires. And as Britton put it, regarding the six-month period:

"“Since I’m a pitcher and don’t have to run bases, I could be back before that”"

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This isn’t to discount the physical demands of a pitcher. It’s mainly to show that if an elite-level NBA player can make it back within eight months, a relief pitcher, who will probably make two or three much shorter and less strenuous appearances a week, could return in the same window, if not sooner, considering it’s not an arm or back injury.

The two-time All-Star is coming off an injury-plagued season which saw him post a 2.89 ERA in 37.1 innings. This after a historic 2016 season in which he gave up four earned runs in 67 innings, which equates to a 0.54 ERA. And in 2014 a 1.65 ERA and in 2015 a 1.92 ERA. So, when healthy, the Dodgers would be getting a truly elite reliever, and he would form arguably the best relieving duo with Kenley Jansen.

The Dodgers need to replace Brandon Morrow, and while they may do it internally, there’s no doubt that a healthy Britton would trump whatever LA has right now (as of now). Who knows? Maybe Los Angeles finds another Brandon Morrow. But it is more likely they don’t, and Britton would be a perfect complement to Jansen.

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A significant injury and in the last year of his contract? This is the perfect time for the Dodgers to invest in Britton. He would not cost any notable prospects. If he does, then the Orioles are delusional. Yes, Yu Darvish and Aroldis Chapman both required good prospects for just two months of service, but they were not coming off an injury, let alone an Achilles rupture.