The Rangers and Yankees are reportedly pursuing free agent relievers Zach Britton and Adam Ottavino, according to Fancred’s Jon Heyman and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. While the Yankees have been linked to the pair from the get-go, this is the first time the Rangers have emerged as a potential suitor for either pitcher.
Britton, 31, was dealt to the Yankees in advance of the 2018 trade deadline and finished the year with a cumulative seven saves and a 3.10 ERA, 4.6 BB/9, and 7.5 SO/9 through 40 2/3 innings. Granted, that’s a far cry from his sub-3.00 ERAs and 30+ save totals of seasons past, due in no small part to the recurring forearm and Achilles tendon injuries the left-hander has worked to overcome. Previous reports from Jayson Stark of ESPN indicated that Britton had been angling for a four-year contract this offseason, and it’s not yet clear whether the Yankees or Rangers have any intention of meeting that demand given the pitcher’s recent struggles on and off the mound.
Unlike Britton, the 33-year-old Ottavino is coming off of his strongest season yet. The right-hander rounded out a seven-year run with the Rockies in 2018 with six saves and a remarkable 2.43 ERA, 4.2 BB/9, and 13.0 SO/9 across 77 2/3 innings. He’s attracted a fair amount of interest this winter, with the Red Sox, White Sox, and Rockies all rumored suitors, though the Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders said Saturday that the Rockies are no longer expected to be in the mix. Ottavino may no longer be able to shake up Coors Field, but there’s no question that he could help bolster one of the strongest bullpens in the American League, and Rosenthal adds that while the Yankees still need to solve some questions in their rotation, picking up both relievers isn’t “out of the question” just yet.
With the Rangers, things are less clear. They have a stable foundation in closer José Leclerc and right-handers Jesse Chavez, Chris Martin, and Connor Sadzeck, but may not be in a position to make a big enough offer to net someone of Ottavino or Britton’s caliber — assuming either (or both) would jump at the chance to make a big impact for a non-contender in the first place.