Angels Interested In Zack Britton


The Angels are known to be in the market for left-handed bullpen help, and USA Today’s Bob Nightengale specifies that the Halos “have strong interest” in Zack Britton’s services.  The two sides have yet to line up on a contract, as Nightengale writes that the Angels’ interest may only hinge on getting Britton at a lower amount than his asking price of roughly $9MM.

It is easy to understand the team’s hesitation, given that Britton has barely pitched (19 total innings) over the last two seasons due to injury.  Bone chips in Britton’s elbow hampered his 2021 performance, and a Tommy John surgery then sidelined the reliever for virtually all of the 2022 campaign.  Though Britton recently held a showcase to display his health for scouts, there’s naturally a good amount of uncertainty over what can be expected from the southpaw as he heads into his age-35 season.

From Britton’s perspective, a $9MM guarantee is a reasonable ask for a pitcher who was arguably baseball’s best reliever from 2014-20, posting elite numbers with the Orioles and Yankees.  As noted by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Matt Strahm’s two-year, $15MM deal with the Phillies seemed to throw off the market for left-handed relievers, to the point that Britton and fellow free agent southpaws Andrew Chafin and Matt Moore might still be unsigned because they feel they deserve to top Strahm in either total value, average annual value, or both.  (Nightengale writes that Chafin and Moore are also looking for around $9MM, though it isn’t clear if that translates to multi-year deal worth $9MM per season, or if either is open to a one-year commitment.)

Rosenthal’s report also cited the Angels as only one of 10 teams who were still looking at adding a left-handed reliever, so with this many potential suitors, Britton — and Chafin and Moore — might feel there’s enough interest that at least one club will eventually pay up.  Speculatively, each of the three free agents also might be in some sense waiting to see which of the group signs first, as that deal could also reset the market.

The Angels already made one notable bullpen signing this winter in landing Carlos Estevez on a two-year, $13.5MM contract.  The flame-throwing Estevez will factor into a closer mix that also includes Jimmy Herget and Ryan Tepera, but elsewhere in the Halos’ bullpen, Aaron Loup, Jose Quijada, and perhaps Tucker Davidson are the left-handed options.  Since Loup and Quijada were each only okay in 2022, there’s certainly room for the Angels to add more help from the left side, and Britton’s past experience as a closer might also add to the list of ninth-inning candidates.

Signing Britton, Moore, or Chafin would add another noteworthy salary to an Angels payroll that is already projected by Roster Resource to sit at approximately $220.2MM.  Though the Angels haven’t surpassed the luxury tax threshold since 2004, GM Perry Minasian said earlier this winter that owner Arte Moreno had no mandate against staying under the tax line.  As such, there wouldn’t appear to be any obstacle to the Halos topping the $233MM threshold by signing Britton and perhaps another player or two, though naturally the front office might balk if they simply don’t value at a $9MM price point.

One player who isn’t on Anaheim’s radar is Gary Sanchez, Nightengale reports.  Rookie prospect Logan O’Hoppe (acquired from the Phillies in the Brandon Marsh deal last summer) and veteran Max Stassi comprise the Angels’ current catching tandem, with Chad Wallach and Jose Godoy providing more depth in the minors.  The Halos did have interest in Willson Contreras before Contreras signed with the Cardinals, but it isn’t clear if Los Angeles was looking at a catching upgrade in general, or Contreras was just a specific target as the top catcher on the free agent market.

Regardless, it doesn’t appear that Sanchez is under consideration.  The former two-time All-Star has hit only .195/.287/.394 with 49 homers over 1089 plate appearances since the start of the 2020 season, translating to a 90 wRC+.  Between that decline at the plate and Sanchez’s inconsistent defense, the Twins were willing to move on from Sanchez after the season (signing Christian Vazquez instead), and the Giants’ interest in Sanchez may have dried up since San Francisco inked Roberto Perez to a contract earlier today.

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