If you’re worried that I’m going to devote a new post to every single minor leaguer the Dodgers sign, fear not. That’s why there wasn’t a post originally about infielder Buck Britton, who announced on Twitter the other day that he’d signed with the Dodgers after seven years in the Orioles organization. (He is, as the title picture shows, the brother of O’s reliever Zach Britton.) I’m writing about him now not because a guy headed into his age-29 season who still hasn’t played a complete season at Double-A seems fantastically interesting on his own, but because this note from my friend Carson Cistulli is.
The day before Britton signed, Carson ran a post at FanGraphs showing Steamer’s five best projections for the more than 500 free agents who had declared minor league free agency. Britton came in second:
2. Buck Britton, 2B/3B, Baltimore (Profile)
PA AVG OBP SLG wRC+ Off Def WAR 550 .261 .307 .388 94 -4.1 2.0 1.7
Danny Valencia really was invoked nearly at random in the discussion of Jared Goedert above. The invocation of Danny Valencia here is less random, however, Selected out of Lubbock Christian University by Baltimore in the 35th round of the 2008 draft, Britton has played in the Orioles system ever since — or, until now, at least. In 2013, he actually played alongside Valencia at Triple-A Norfolk. While the latter was eventually promoted to the majors, Brittion remained at Triple-A. Entering the 2015 season, Britton — just a year younger than Valencia — is actually projected to outhit his former teammate. Steamer calls for a 94 wRC+ from Britton; just an 89 wRC+ from Valencia.
Projections are just that, and obviously keep in mind Carson’s follow-up note…
Less than 1% of the players granted minor-league free agency at the end of one season produce 0.5 WAR or more at the major-league level in the next.
…but the Baltimore Sun seemed to like him:
His versatility and ability to hit right-handed pitching from the left side makes him a more viable option to make the majors in the National League, where he could be used more often in double switches and as a pinch-hitter.
Several in the organization believe that Britton, a renowned baseball rat, has a future in coaching when his playing days are over. Last year during spring training, he was the only Oriole to be included on both rosters of a split-squad, day-night doubleheader in two different stadiums in Florida.
…as did the Orioles, who wanted to retain him. So what does this mean? Probably nothing. Probably, Britton will just be necessary depth at Oklahoma City or Tulsa, like Kyle Jensen. (It’s worth noting that with Carlos Triunfel, Walter Ibarra, Jamie Romak and Alex Liddi all gone, and Alex Guerrero unable to be optioned back down, last year’s Albuquerque 2B/3B crew is basically all gone, creating a need for someone like Britton, even if he never makes the bigs.)
Likely, this is the last time we’ll ever seriously discuss Britton. But if he ends up being useful in any way, it’s nice to know that there was some small reason to see it coming. Besides, who can’t love a guy who describes himself on Twitter as “infielder w/ hands made of soft magic,” right?