While several contenders have already taken steps to bolster their respective rosters ahead of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers, owners of the two best records in baseball, have not yet struck.
Like the Dodgers, the Astros are believed to have a desire in upgrading their pitching staff ahead of the deadline. Both clubs reportedly are in the market for a left-handed reliever.
That group is headlined by a pair of closers in Zach Britton and Justin Wilson, as well as Brad Hand. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, some perceive the Astros as the most driven to complete a trade with the Baltimore Orioles for Britton:
About the Zach Britton sweepstakes: Rival evaluators think the Astros may well be the most motivated suitor.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 20, 2017
The Astros bullpen ranks sixth overall in opponents’ on-base plus slugging percentage at .675, and 11th with a 4.01 ERA. Trading for Britton would pair him with closer Ken Giles, who is 1-2 with 20 saves, two blown saves, a 3.31 ERA and 1.08 WHIP.
Britton has appeared in just 15 games this season, converted five saves, and holds a 2.81 ERA and 1.81 WHIP. He was not particularly effective Thursday night, allowing two hits, two runs, issuing a walk and throwing a wild pitch in just one inning of work.
Britton missed two months due to a left forearm strain. While that may have a negative impact on his trade value, the 29-year-old is under team control through the 2018 season.