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Who's in the lead for Britton?

More than a half-dozen contenders are after the O's closer
July 24, 2018

Need your daily fix of Zach Britton trade rumors? You know you do. The Orioles' closer is one of the hottest names on the rumor mill, with a number of contenders in the mix to add him for a back-of-the-bullpen boost.MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal tweeted Tuesday night that sources

Need your daily fix of Zach Britton trade rumors? You know you do. The Orioles' closer is one of the hottest names on the rumor mill, with a number of contenders in the mix to add him for a back-of-the-bullpen boost.
MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal tweeted Tuesday night that sources tell the Athletic that the Yankees have emerged as the "clear front-runner." MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli recently reported that more than a half-dozen teams have expressed interest in Britton.

With the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline just a week away, dealing Britton has become the focus for the rebuilding O's. They are aiming to move him sooner rather than later, according to multiple reports.
A free agent this offseason, Britton missed the first two-plus months of 2018 while recovering from offseason surgery to repair a ruptured right Achilles tendon, but Britton's fastball velocity has improved this month -- back into the 95-96 mph range -- and so has his performance.
The 30-year-old lefty hasn't surrendered a run since June 30, allowing only three hits over eight innings in that time, dropping his ERA to 3.45. Overall, 14 of Britton's 16 outings in 2018 have been scoreless. MLB.com's Mike Petriello has more on the return of Britton's stellar sinker, along with a breakdown of which suitors need him the most.
Keep it here for the most up-to-date info on Britton.

• The Britton derby is shaping up to be a four-team race. In the heat? The Astros, Yankees, Cubs and Red Sox, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports, noting that Houston and New York upped their offers recently.

Crasnick follows up to point out that multiple executives see the Astros, in particular, making a lot of sense for Britton. They have a ninth-inning need in the wake of Ken Giles' demotion to Triple-A, and they have the prospect depth to pull off a swap. Not to mention, Houston's interest in Britton dates back to last summer, and the O's may prefer to avoid sending their big trade chip to American League East-rival Yankees or Red Sox.

 • The Yankees and Astros look to be among the leaders for Britton this morning, according to MLB Network Radio host Jim Bowden, who says "negotiations are rounding third and heading for home."

• MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal echoes that news, but he also mentions the situation is fluid, with the Red Sox and Brewers in play.

• The Brewers, indeed, are among the teams who are "interested and aggressive" when it comes to Britton, as MLB Network Radio host Jim Duquette says in sizing up the market.

• The Yankees are "still heavy" on Britton, Andy Martino of SNY reports today after pointing out the team's "serious interest" late Monday.

• That jibes with what MLB.com's Mark Feinsand was hearing Monday night.

• The Cubs, who have been connected to Britton for several days, may no longer be as engaged as other clubs, Rosenthal reports Tuesday, citing a source for The Athletic. Chicago, however, has remained in contact, discussing other O's arms -- Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman -- in the club's search for pitching.

"Theo is playing it coy, but they are on this guy," a source told MLB Network insider Joel Sherman, in a story today for the New York Post, about Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein's pursuit of Britton.

*Jason Catania is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JayCat11.*