Yankees on verge of complicated Zack Britton decision
On the surface, Zack Britton remaining a Yankee appears to be a no-brainer.
But how many of those situations don’t result in a deal getting done?
Due to a clause in Zack Britton’s contract, the Yankees have to pick up a $14 million option for the 2022 season after the upcoming World Series is finished. If they choose not to do that, then Britton can opt out of his 2021 deal for $13 million and become a free agent after the World Series.
“As I understand the contract, the Yankees have until the third day following the end of the World Series to extend my contract for $27 million. If they decline to extend, I can either choose to extend the contract for 2021 or opt out of the contract,’’ Britton wrote in an email to The Post. “I have until the fifth day following the World Series to make my [decision]. Yankees have the first crack. I have not had any discussions regarding my contract with the Yankees. I will connect with [agent] Scott Boras in the coming days and talk about all the possible scenarios.’’
Based on what Britton, who turns 33 in December, did during the 60-game 2020 season, it would be easy to see the Yankees picking up the 2022 option and not running the risk of him opting out and pitching, and possibly closing, for another team in 2021.
In 20 games the left-hander posted a 1.89 ERA and went 8-for-8 in save chances while closer Aroldis Chapman was on the COVID-19 injured list.
Yet, nobody can accurately predict what the financial fallout for clubs will be after the pandemic forced MLB to play a shortened schedule without customers in the seats.
The Yankees might think they could use what they would save if Britton opted out to sign DJ LeMahieu and Masahiro Tanaka.
Aside from Chapman’s postseason habit of giving up late-game home runs that sent the Yankees home the past two Octobers, the back end of the bullpen was a strength. And Britton, a former All-Star closer, is a big reason. So, too, is Chad Green, who is arbitration eligible.
Chapman has two years and $32 million remaining on a contract. Green made $1.275 million this past season.
Adam Ottavino and Tommy Kahnle made the bullpen the deepest in baseball, but Ottavino’s problems holding runners and lefties hitting .294 (5-for-17) off him in the regular season reduced his postseason workload to two-thirds of an inning and one game. Tampa Bay’s Joey Wendle, a left-handed hitter, walked and stole second base with Ottavino on the mound of Game 2 in the ALDS. Wendle scored off Jonathan Loaisiga.
Kahnle underwent Tommy John surgery in early August after one appearance and likely will miss the entire 2021 season.
The Yankees could look into dealing Ottavino to possibly save money. Thirty-five in November, the Brooklynite is owed $9 million for the 2021 season. It is the final leg of a three-year, $27 million deal.
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