With the A's front office looking to improve the team for 2023 and the A's representing a decent landing spot for a bounce-back year on a one-year deal, soon-to-be 35-year-old reliever Zack Britton makes a lot of sense.
From 2014 through 2020, Britton was a dominant reliever for the Orioles and Yankees, totaling a 1.84 ERA across 367 1/3 innings and holding an ERA+ of 230, meaning he was 130% better than league average. In 2021-22 he combined for 19 innings and a 6.16 ERA, but those numbers were accumulated leading up to Tommy John surgery, and then immediately after coming back, before being shut down again.
Reports are that he's recovered now, and will be ready for Spring Training. He just needs a team to come knocking.
The A's have closer options, but they don't necessarily have a closer. Britton could fill that role, plus he's a proven veteran that would be a nice addition to a relatively inexperienced staff.
If he proves to be healthy and effective, he would also make for a pretty intriguing trade candidate at the Trade Deadline, and unless the A's hold onto Sean Murphy, they may not have too many of those.
The A's have been down this road before when they signed Trevor Rosenthal ahead of the 2021 season, so the club may be a little wary of making a second deal with an injured reliever, given that they still owe Rosenthal $5MM in 2023. That said, it's not like they're spending money elsewhere currently, so they may as well splurge a little in the hope that they'd essentially end up buying a couple of intriguing prospects in a few month's time.
For Britton, there may be better options than signing with the 102-loss A's from a competitive standpoint, but as a pitcher coming off of injury and looking to put your best foot forward ahead of what is hopefully one last big payday next off-season, the Oakland Coliseum is one of baseball's most pitcher-friendly environments, and the pressure would be off playing in Oakland too.
The A's will likely add a player or two on a one year deal, with Britton, and Joey Gallo making the most sense currently. They would offer upgrades for the team initially, and could turn into valuable trade chips come the middle of summer.
Both will be looking at reasonable salaries for the 2023 season, well within the A's price range.