by Mark Viviano

News of Zach Britton’s injury gives Orioles fans another reason to feel “bah, humbug” during Christmas week.

The O’s ace reliever suffered a torn Achilles tendon during an off-season workout and faces an anticipated recovery time of six months, meaning he’s unlikely to pitch again until July. It’s the latest blow in a tumultuous O’s off-season that’s been headlined by the team taking trade offers for young star Manny Machado.

Like Machado, Britton is a free agent after the 2018 season. And, like Machado, Britton is a trade chip for the O’s as they attempt to get future assets for players who will not be part of the team long-term. Britton is obviously un-tradable with his injury. The injury also pulls Brad Brach off the trade block, as Brach will now be needed to fill Britton’s closer spot in the O’s bullpen. Injuries and uncertainty make for a troubling off-season.

Britton told of his injury, “It’s probably the most frustrating thing I’ve experienced.”

His frustration includes the likelihood that the O’s declined to tender him a contract this winter, which sets him free as an injured player.

If so, another team is likely to sign him, given that Britton’s injury is not arm related. It’s an uncomfortable spot for the Orioles, who now face the prospect of giving injured Zach Britton an arbitration salary (first anticipated to be $12M for this coming season) or letting him go entirely.

As of now: Zach Britton is hurt and Manny Machado is in trade limbo with multiple reports that the O’s have not received the offers for Machado that they wanted in an attempt to rebuild a beleaguered starting pitching rotation. It’s a series of developments that make this less than a happy baseball holiday season in Baltimore.

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