Free-agent lefty Zack Britton is hosting yet another workout for teams seeking bullpen help, as first reported by Mike Puma of the New York Post (via Twitter). The Mets will be in attendance, he adds. They’ll be joined by around seven other clubs, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic adds.
It’s at least the third time that Britton has auditioned for clubs this offseason. He held a broad-reaching showcase back in January and a narrower workout for six teams almost one month ago to the day. That session — reportedly attended by the Mets, Angels, Cubs, Giants, Rangers and Dodgers — either didn’t produce the big league offer Britton is said to be seeking or didn’t produce one that he found to his liking.
The Mets’ interest in Britton will take center stage, given Edwin Diaz’s likely season-ending knee surgery and the fact that Britton, not long ago, was considered to be perhaps baseball’s best reliever — just as Diaz is now. Previously, the Mets had been focused on bullpen help that had minor league options, not wanting to limit the flexibility of their relief corps with another veteran addition. Diaz’s inevitable shift to the 60-day injured list could perhaps change that calculus.
Of course, it can’t emphasized enough that it’s been several years since Britton was in peak form. The now-35-year-old lefty had his elbow scoped in March 2021, which cost him the first two months of that season. He returned in June but quickly went down with a hamstring strain that sidelined him another few weeks. The return from that balky hamstring proved similarly short-lived, as an elbow strain again sent him to the injured list.
In Sept. 2021, Britton underwent surgery to address that second elbow issue. The hope was that, like the arthroscopic procedure in March, removing some bone spurs would alleviate the issue. Instead, surgeons determined that Britton’s ulnar collateral ligament had suffered enough damage that a Tommy John surgery was required. He missed almost all of the 2022 season but did make an improbable late-September return. However, that amounted to just three games, during which time Britton walked six of nine batters faced before going back to the injured list yet again. He averaged 92.8 mph on his fastball in that time — nowhere close to the 94.9 mph he averaged during his last healthy season in 2020 (and even further from the 96.9 mph on his sinker at its peak).
From 2014-20, Britton notched a superhuman 1.84 ERA in 367 1/3 frames….
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