The Dodgers should target a different reliever from the Orioles

Mychal Givens ((Via)

It’s Manny Mach … it’s trade deadline season, and rumors have been floating around. One of the stronger rumors around the Twittersphere has linked Manny Machado to the Dodgers (and Yankees and Diamondbacks and Brewers, but this is a Dodgers site). Dustin made sense of the rumors here, and also wrote about how Justin Turner‘s relative not-Justin Turner-ness makes a Machado acquisition make even more sense.

A number of reputable writers have linked the Dodgers to Machado. Bob Nightengale has also linked the Dodgers to Machado.

I won’t write too much about Machado. Dustin did that. However, it does make sense for the Orioles to want as good a prospect package in return for their young superstar as possible. It also makes sense for the Dodgers to be in the market for a reliever, as Dylan Floro played the role of setup man in the Dodgers’ victory on Wednesday. However, the Dodgers should be wary of trading for Zach Britton.

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It makes sense to connect the two, as the Dodgers were reportedly interested in trading for Britton last summer. They obviously did not, and Britton had a relatively rough season. His 2016 season was likely going to be unsustainable (a 0.54 ERA with 18 walks and 74 strikeouts in 67 innings seems good), but Britton took a step back with a still-solid 2.89 ERA in 37 innings. More troubling, Britton walked the same number of batters in 30 fewer innings than the season before, but struck out only 29 batters. Britton’s relatively rough season was followed by a tough offseason, as he ruptured his Achilles tendon in December. He returned in mid-June and has a 4.26 ERA in 12 2/3 innings, with 11 strikeouts and seven walks. A closer look suggests that he’s not as bad as those numbers say, as 11 of his 13 outings have been scoreless and he’s stranded both runners that he’s inherited. The main culprit behind his ugly numbers is an outing in Atlanta, during which Britton recorded one out and allowed four runs. The one out he got was a runner being thrown out trying to score from second on a double. Not great.

It’s tough to read too much into Britton’s season so far, as he’s tossed short of 13 innings. That’s fewer than Erik Goeddel had thrown before I wrote about him and broke him. Like I learned, don’t read too much into what relievers do over a couple innings.

Yet…

Britton’s velocity is not trending in the right direction.

He deserves a bit of a pass, as he’s coming off an injury to his landing leg. Not as serious as an arm injury, but he only threw 5 1/3 innings of rehab before returning. It’s still something to be concerned about, and Britton did miss two months of last season with a forearm strain.

Like Machado, Britton would be a rental. He’s due $12 million this season, so trading for him past the midway point of the season would cost less than $6 million. The Dodgers impressively got under the luxury tax in the offseason, so I’d wager they’d try their hardest to remain under the tax. A Machado ($16 million) and Britton package, depending on when the Dodgers acquire them, would probably push the Dodgers extremely close to the $197 million threshold and make Kenta Maeda‘s incentives and the waiver trade deadline much more stressful. Ultimately then, I feel like the Dodgers should resist a trade for Britton, but that doesn’t mean a deal can’t be found for an Oriole reliever.

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This is the part where I shill and try to convince you guys about a guy with a 4.50 ERA. Instead of Britton, the Dodgers should aim for Mychal Givens. Givens has had a rough year, with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.435 WHIP in 46 innings. In 78 2/3 innings last season, Givens posted a 2.75 ERA and a 1.042 WHIP. Despite throwing over 30 fewer innings so far this season, Givens has walked only two fewer batters.

Givens has had a few terrible outings this year. Even as recently as June 30, when Givens faced five Angels. He got a flyout before issuing two unintentional walks, throwing a wild pitch, allowing an RBI double and an intentional walk to remove him from the game. Tanner Scott came in with the bases loaded and allowed all three runs to score. Givens was charged with four earned runs, though he wasn’t on the mound when three of them scored. He has two other outings where he’s been charged with three earned runs. Of those six runs, Givens wasn’t on the mound when five of them scored. Obviously, putting runners on base is an undeniably bad thing, but that 4.50 ERA would look a lot better if the Orioles weren’t a garbage fire of a team.

The reliever earned run sword cuts both ways, and the second way is much easier to keep track of. On May 3, Givens came into the game with the bases loaded, relieving Miguel Castro who had allowed one run to score while he was in. Givens allowed a single and a double to put three runs on Castro’s sheet. Givens allowed another inherited runner to score on May 16, but he’s stranded the remaining 16 runners he’s inherited this season. For you fiends out there, that means 4-of-20 inherited runners have scored off Givens.

Givens has had a weird season so far. As unsustainable as his 2.1 HR/FB% has been, his .350 BABIP also isn’t doing him any favors. He’s throwing his fastball more and his slider less than he ever has, and early returns have not been all that great. He could be a typical change-of-scenery guy. He isn’t the sexy name that the Dodgers want and probably need, but Givens would be a solid relief option and a great replacement for a Yimi Garcia or JT Chargois. He has a track record of success, and getting away from a 26-68 team would probably do him some good. Most importantly, Givens is younger (28), cheaper ($566,000 this season) and under team control (earliest free agency is 2022). If the Orioles want a better package of prospects, the Dodgers should ask for Givens rather than Britton along with Machado.

About Alex Campos

Alex Campos
I'm a writer that has blogged at a whole bunch of places about a whole bunch of sports. I was most recently writing for Chavez Ravine Fiends, but was also the former editor at Dodgers Way. I graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Marketing. At Long Beach, I covered the Dirtbags in the 2014 season as an assistant sports editor at the Daily 49er.