Zack Britton opens up on Yankees exercising contract option

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Garrett Stepien
·3 min read
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Zack Britton throws pitch against Red Sox
Zack Britton throws pitch against Red Sox

The Yankees picked up LHP Zack Britton's contract option, as SNY MLB insider Andy Martino first reported Oct. 29, keeping a key bullpen piece around for 2021 and '22.

Given the Yankees' numbers crunch amid a pandemic-tightened budget for MLB teams, not even Britton was entirely sure of his situation, but he emerged from a call with general manager Brian Cashman ready to go.

"There definitely was (a doubt), due to, obviously, financial situations that teams are in, for what they're saying and, yeah, I didn't know," Britton said Wednesday on YES Network with Yankees clubhouse reporter Meredith Marakovits. "Me and my agent, Scott Boras, we really didn't discuss in great length what was going to happen if they didn't and what we were going to do in regards to free agency and things like that. So it was nice, obviously, to get that call from Cash' talking about it. Obviously, I'm excited to stay in New York for the next two years and hopefully win a championship is the reason why I came here in the first place. So to have two more years to kind of realize that goal would be nice."

Had the Yankees declined a $14 million option for 2022, Britton would have been able to test free agency this winter.

Britton enters his age-33 season in 2021 after a strong 2020 campaign with the Yankees. He went 1-2 with a 1.89 ERA in 19 IP over 20 regular-season games, striking out 16 while walking seven and anchoring the Yankees' uneven-at-times bullpen.

A ground-ball pitcher, Britton pointed to an improved feel on his sinker for the 2020 season's sharp outings.

"Through the analytics and stuff like that, especially the postseason, I definitely had increased the movement on my sinker -- they say the depth of it, so the way it's going down," Britton said. "Very similar to some of the really good years I had in Baltimore. There was actually a couple things ... just talking to (Yankees pitching coaches) about something with my stride that I felt like was getting more natural. Obviously, I had that Achilles injury a few years ago. But you lose some type of feel in your delivery when you go throw a surgery like that.

"And I was able to find something that was familiar in my delivery in my stride -- kind of shortening my stride is, I guess, the best way to describe it, shortening my stride back to the length that is was in Baltimore. It allowed me to get on top of the ball and pull down little bit more on my sinker, which caused a good amount of increase in drop that I had before that I maybe had lost a little bit. So that's good going into next year, that I know what that feels like now and I'm able to watch video and get the data to support it, which is nice, too."