Former Orioles closer Zack Britton announces retirement: ‘Looking forward to the next chapter’

No pitcher in Orioles history was better at finishing games than Zack Britton. This week, it was his career that he brought to an end.

Britton announced his retirement Monday, ending a 12-year major league career that included 7 1/2 seasons with Baltimore. The 35-year-old left-hander was the Orioles’ third-round pick in the 2006 draft and made his major league debut in 2011 as a starter before becoming one of the best relievers in baseball.

“Thankful to have had the opportunity to live out my childhood dream these past 12 years,” Britton posted on social media. “Looking forward to the next chapter.”

Britton’s 139 saves are the second most in Orioles history, and his 92.7% save percentage is the best of the 47 Baltimore pitchers with more than 10 saves. In 2016, Britton posted an 0.54 ERA — the best in MLB history for any pitcher who threw at least 50 innings in a season — and converted all 47 of his save opportunities, finishing fourth in American League Cy Young Award voting. Notably, Britton did not pitch in Baltimore’s lone playoff game that year, an 11-inning loss to the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL wild-card game.

In 2018, the Orioles traded Britton, then a pending free agent, to the New York Yankees for three minor league pitchers. Right-hander Dillon Tate, who led the Orioles in games pitched in 2021 and 2022 but missed 2023 with an elbow injury, is the only product of that trade still with the organization.

Britton primarily worked as a setup man in New York, recording 15 saves across parts of five seasons. After posting a sub-2.00 ERA in both 2019 and 2020, he missed the end of 2021 and much of 2022 because of Tommy John elbow reconstruction. He appeared in three games at the end of 2022 before returning to the injured list, with what proved to be his final career appearance coming against Baltimore.

Britton’s older brother, Buck, is the manager of the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate. In 2023, Buck Britton led the Norfolk Tides to the Triple-A championship and was named the recipient of the organization’s Cal Ripken Sr. Player Development Award for the second time in three years.

In recent months, several players who contributed to Baltimore’s run as the AL’s winningest team from 2012 to 2016 have ended their playing careers. The Orioles held a retirement ceremony for center fielder Adam Jones in September, and Nelson Cruz, who led the majors in home runs during his lone season with Baltimore in 2014, announced his retirement earlier this month.


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