The Yankees’ first order of business this offseason doesn’t come in the form of free agent starting pitchers to pursue or figuring out what to do with Gary Sanchez.
It actually starts with Zack Britton’s contract situation.
As the New York Post’s George A. King III points out, Britton has a unique clause in his contract where the Yankees must pick up a $14 million option for the 2022 season when this year’s World Series is finished. If they don’t, Britton will have the option to opt out of his 2021 deal with the Yanks worth $13 million.
Britton is well aware of the situation, and said that he will be discussing with agent Scott Boras what to do.
“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 told The Post via email. “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.’’
It would make tons of sense for the Yankees to exercise that option for the left-hander. This past season, Britton had a 1.89 ERA in 20 appearances (19 innings) and was just as solid in the postseason when he was given the ball. He didn’t allow a single run in four innings during the ALDS, though two runs came across in his Game 2 stint in the Wild Card Round.
Britton has become a valuable back-end bullpen arm that the Yankees can trust, even in save situations. Aroldis Chapman is not a fan favorite at the moment after allowing the game-winning, series-ending homer in Game 4 of the ALDS. The same thing happened in Game 6 of the ALCS, when Jose Altuve walked it off in Houston. Still, those two power arms provide a nice cushion for the Yankees.
Britton has been nothing but stellar since joining the Yankees at the trade deadline in 2018. He has a career 2.14 ERA with them thus far as well as 14 saves.
The only thing that could deter GM Brian Cashman from picking up this extension is the uncertainty of financials after this shortened season in MLB. Every team was affected and could be more frugal than normal because of the revenue losses. Also, the Yankees have to think about LeMahieu, Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and others that have their own contract situations.
The deadline to make a decision is coming fast, though, so we’ll see what the Yankees do. The ball is in their court.