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Zach Britton, not Manny Machado, is the Oriole in Red Sox' crosshairs

Rob Bradford
July 10, 2018 - 11:34 pm

In the middle of the Red Sox' 8-4 win over the Rangers Tuesday night the rumors started swirling: the Red Sox were dipping their toes in the Manny Machado Sweepstakes.

An inquiry to a major league source with knowledge of the situation on the matter resulted in a response reiterating that the Red Sox have always liked Machado.

That's where the momentum stopped.

The Red Sox aren't going to be acquiring Machado, although they would probably like to get an idea of how realistic it is the Yankees might make a major play for the shortstop. This is the vibe coming from the Sox side of things. Making the kind of run that would necessitate getting Machado for the final few months of the 2018 season isn't in the cards for Dave Dombrowski and his club.

First of all, the Red Sox don't really need him right now. (In case you missed it, they are now 35 games over .500.) And the price for the player figures to be something that would make an already depleted farm system significantly more uncomfortable, with the Orioles needing desperately to hit on this deal. Kansas City held on to its guys (Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain) last non-waiver trade and paid the price. Detroit's haul for the rental that was J.D. Martinez now seems pretty modest.

Dan Duquette can't suffer such a fate.

There is another player on that Orioles team, however, that Red Sox fans should absolutely be eyeing every time he pitches. Zach Britton is clearly on the Red Sox' end-of-July short list.

Acquiring Britton isn't going to break the Red Sox' minor-league talent pool bank, with the reliever heading into free agency after this season. Since coming back from injury June 12, the lefty has gotten progressively closer to the difference-maker that would seemingly fit nicely in the back of the Sox' bullpen. He has allowed just two hits while striking out four in his last five outings, including scoreless innings against the Yankees the last two days. reported Tuesday night that there seems to be "definite interest" from the Red Sox regarding Britton, a notion that lines up with what has been coming from multiple sources over the past few weeks.

Pitching for the second time in as many days, Britton topped out at 96 mph against the Yankees. The day before he could be found with the same velocity, carrying such movement on his fastball that all of the reliever's 15 pitches were heaters.

To repeat: The Baltimore reliever, not the shortstop, is the guy Red Sox fans should be focused on.

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