ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- If the Orioles decide to trade left-handed closer Zach Britton by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, it goes without saying that it will fundamentally change the team.
If the Orioles were to trade Britton to one of the teams most prominently mentioned -- the Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs -- in return they would have to get a pitcher who could start now or, at the latest, in 2018. The trade would also need to include some younger prospects to help bolster a substandard farm system.
Losing Britton would weaken the bullpen, but the addition of an effective starter could lessen the Orioles' dependence on relievers.
Right-handers Brad Brach and Mychal Givens are the favorites to inherit the job from Britton should he move on, but the Orioles could eventually look to some other in-house candidates.
Brach converted 16-of-20 save opportunities this season while Britton was on the disabled list with a left forearm injury. Givens, who is 17-2 with a 2.50 ERA in his three-season major league career, has not had an opportunity to close.
The open spot in the bullpen could be filled by right-hander Mike Wright, who came off the 10-day disabled list July 22 and was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk after rehabbing his right shoulder.
Wright has been given multiple chances to start, and while he could be given additional opportunities in that role, he has impressed this season in the bullpen.
Another intriguing future option could be left-hander Tanner Scott, who has been pitching planned short starts at Double-A Bowie.
Scott has a 1.94 ERA in 19 starts with 35 hits allowed and 72 strikeouts in 55.2 innings. The 23-year-old needs to improve his control, though, as he's walked more than six batters per nine innings.
One quality the Orioles like about Scott is his ability to avoid home runs. He's allowed two in 185.1 innings of his professional career.
During spring training, the Orioles had high hopes for right-hander Jesus Liranzo, who like Scott, has recently pitched planned short starts. However, Liranzo has a 4.67 ERA in 24 appearances for the Baysox.
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