One year ago at this time, Orioles closer Zach Britton was a legitimate Cy Young candidate in the middle of one of the best relief seasons in history. He went a perfect 47 for 47 in save chances and finished with a 0.54 ERA in 67 innings.
Now, prior to Monday's trade deadline, the O's are having trouble finding a trade partner for Britton. How quickly things can change.
Britton, who is still only 29 and will remain under team control as an arbitration-eligible player in 2018, has been on the disabled list twice with forearm problems this year. That's the No. 1 reason he hasn't been in high demand at the deadline. Forearm issues are a common symptom of serious elbow problems.
Also, when he has been on the mound, Britton has been rather ordinary. He allowed two runs on three hits in an inning Wednesday afternoon in a non-save situation, giving him a 3.50 ERA in 18 innings. Britton has allowed 25 hits in those 18 innings with a 14/8 K/BB. Not awful, but not close to the Britton of 2014-16. That guy was a monster.
That isn't to say Britton will be bad forever. It just means teams see enough red flags to stay away at the trade deadline, especially since the O's are likely seeking a massive prospect package in return. The Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller trades set the bar very high for trades involving relief aces last year.
Unless the asking price drops, it seems likely the Orioles will keep Britton, hope he stays healthy and pitches well down the stretch, then try to trade him in the offseason. Right now, teams are being cautious.