The Baltimore Orioles’ canceled trade that would have sent Zach Britton to the Houston Astros on deadline day included Colin Moran and other Astros prospects, but none of the prospects Houston made off-limits in their Sonny Gray and Jose Quintana talks.
The Orioles canceled the Britton deal, informing the Astros that there was a medical problem or problems. The Astros seemed to have assumed later that it was owner Peter Angelos who killed the deal, and it’s true that even Orioles people can’t say for sure that the owner would have approved it even if there had been no medical issues. Orioles people also know that their medical team has a “rigorous” standard, and that’s been the case for some time.
Moran was one of the medical issues. He suffered a concussion and facial fracture after fouling a ball off his face on July 22 and remains on the DL. He was off to a nice start in the majors when the fluke play occurred — a foul ball he hit ricocheted squarely into his face. But there was said to have been a second issue with another player, which was apparently discovered through medical paperwork. Moran is a guy the Orioles liked, and the Astros were offering him in multiple deals.
Other teams are concerned he doesn’t have prototypical third base power, but he is a strong contact hitter who’s drawn interest from some, including obviously the Orioles. He is the nephew of ex-Oriole B.J. Surhoff and he’s seen as a third baseman who will hit for a high average. His unfortunate injury happened at Camden Yards, coincidentally enough.
The Astros tried to resurrect the deal after the medical issues came up, and while their version was that they gave a resurrected deal a good chance, someone with familiarity with the deal suggested the players offered were ranked much lower on their prospect list.
In any case, none of the Astros’ very top prospects – Forrest Whitley, Francis Martes, Derek Fisher, Kyle Tucker or Yordan Alvarez – were included in either of the proposed deals. The reason the Orioles were willing to consider such a deal is that they believe the Astros’ prospect list is deeper than most, that Britton is a free agent after next year and also very likely to make $12+ million via arbitration next year, and also that the Orioles have a deep pen.
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