BALTIMORE -- When he first heard the rumblings during Tuesday's Orioles game, Zach Britton -- whose glance at his phone during the 27-minute rain delay provided reports of a trade to the Yankees -- started to realize this may be it.So when the lefty returned to the bullpen and the
BALTIMORE -- When he first heard the rumblings during Tuesday's Orioles game, Zach Britton -- whose glance at his phone during the 27-minute rain delay provided reports of a trade to the Yankees -- started to realize this may be it.
So when the lefty returned to the bullpen and the Orioles' 7-6 win over the Red Sox resumed, Britton went on a trip down memory lane. To that first day flying to Rookie ball in Bluefield, W. Va., with Lenny Johnson waiting to pick him up at the airport. Being 18 and away from home for the first time. Getting that first promotion to Class A in Delmarva, High A ball in Frederick. The 30-year-old Britton, the longest tenured active Oriole, went stop by stop through his memories in the home bullpen at Camden Yards for the last time.
"It's been crazy. It's been a great 12 years," said Britton, who was dealt to New York for pitching prospects Dillon Tate, Cody Carroll and Josh Rogers.
"There are so many things, from baseball to getting married to having kids. It all happened with this organization, so it will forever be in my heart, and hopefully it's not the last time I play here. Hopefully, sometime down the road I can come back here and maybe finish it out."
The trade, made official just before midnight, is headlined by the 24-year-old Tate. Scratched from his scheduled Double-A outing, the righty is ranked as the Orioles' No. 4 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.
Britton, who has made eight consecutive scoreless appearances, hit 97 mph with his trademark sinker in his last outing, and his market value skyrocketed. The O's wanted to move quickly on dealing the lefty -- owed just under $5 million this season -- after last week's trade of shortstop Manny Machado. With more than a half-dozen teams interested, the Orioles were intrigued by the Yankees' pitching depth and the trio being close to Major League-ready.
"Zach Britton, personally, I love the kid," Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said, reminiscing about when Britton welcomed him to his first Winter Meetings with the O's in Texas years ago.
"Great family, and we wish them a lot of luck with the Yankees. ... They got a good one, and we really appreciate the work Zach did for us over the years. He came up and got off to a great start to his career and then became one of the dominant closers in the league."
Britton was an All-Star in 2015 and again in '16, when he was a perfect 47-for-47 in save opportunities. After a rocky start to this season off the DL from offseason Achilles' heel surgery, Britton allowed just three hits over his past eight innings. He was drafted in 2006 and made his big league debut in '11.
"It kind of happened the right way with the weather delay," said Britton, who was able to say goodbye to his teammates and thank athletic trainer Brian Ebel for being an integral part of his rehab. "I'm definitely sad to be leaving. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to win some games again, but it's never going to be easy coming back here and playing against these guys especially."
The Yankees will pick up the remaining salary owed to Britton on the deal, as the O's make a rare intradivision trade to help jump-start their rebuild.
Tate is a right-hander with a 3.38 ERA over 82 2/3 innings at Double-A with an impressive 8.17 K/9 rate. He was acquired from the Rangers in the Carlos Beltran trade in 2016.
"I guess he's probably the headliner, or the most publicized player that we're picking up in this deal," Duquette said of Tate, a former fourth-overall Draft pick who will report to the O's Double-A club. "He's having a good year. He's improved his control. We see him as a potential starting pitcher for us in the future."
The Orioles -- who were optimistic they could land a top 10 prospect for the lefty rental -- were also able to get Carroll (the Orioles' No. 15 prospect).
Carroll is a 25-year-old reliever who was a Triple-A All-Star this year. The righty owns a 2.38 ERA over 41 2/3 innings with nine saves this season. He throws hard and uses his slider as a primary second pitch. He -- along with Rogers -- will report to Triple-A Norfolk.
Rogers, 24, has a 3.95 ERA over 109 1/3 innings. The Yankees selected the southpaw in the 11th round of the 2015 Draft. He's a potential back end of the rotation candidate for the O's.
"Rogers is a left-hander, so I think that gives him a good opportunity to join our rotation on that basis," Duquette said. "He's really strong against left-handed hitters, and we don't have a lot of candidates for left-handed starting pitching."
Of particular note is that all three pitchers will have to be protected this winter in advance of the Rule 5 Draft.
Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.