Levine: Cubs Hold Preliminary Discussions With Orioles About Zach Britton

By Bruce Levine–

ORLANDO, Fla. (CBS) — The Cubs have made the playoffs in three straight years with three different closers, and as the GM Meetings continued Tuesday, they’re preparing to make a run at a fourth straight postseason berth with yet another new ninth-inning stopper.

Incumbent closer Wade Davis is a free agent after a spectacular 2017 in which he had a 2.30 ERA, 32 saves and did everything the Cubs asked of him. Although the Cubs would love to sign him, the likelihood of them joining a bidding war is remote. They don’t have interest in bringing him back on a four-year deal in the $60-million range, which appears to be the going rate that was set last offseason for a top-tier closer.

The Mariners and Twins are among the teams believed to be most interested in Davis at this point.

Understanding all that, the Cubs have had early discussions with the Orioles centered on closer Zach Britton, whom Baltimore is entertaining offers on because he’s entering the final year of his contract. After a sensational 2016 in which he had a 0.54 ERA, Britton had an injury-plagued 2017 season in which he was limited to 37 1/3 innings. Britton dealt with forearm and knee injuries.

Much like the Cubs and others, the Orioles are looking for more pitching. That suggests a trade for Britton could be a reach, at least for now. If the Cubs can land a starting pitcher like right-hander Alex Cobb in free agency, they might be more inclined to move some of the young arms in their farm system for Britton.

After relying on Hector Rondon to close in 2015, the Cubs front office worked magic by trading Jorge Soler for Davis last offseason. It turned into one of the best trades for the 2017 season.

Can the Cubs work more magic? Time will tell.

“There are some makeup characteristics that are essential for that role,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said, revealing little else.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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