The Yankees have exercised reliever Zack Britton’s option, thereby keeping the left-hander under contract for the next two years, Andy Martino of SNY reports. The team had been facing a decision over whether to pick up a $14MM option for 2022. Had the Yankees declined it, Britton would have had the chance to opt out of his contract immediately and become a free agent.
Prior to Thursday, it would have been hard to imagine the Yankees turning down Britton’s option. But things then took a dire turn for other veteran relievers, evidenced by the Indians placing Brad Hand on outright waivers and the Braves declining the option for Darren O’Day. Hand has a $10MM option for 2020, so someone could still pick him up for that sum, but the Braves decided against paying O’Day $3.5MM. On paper, those look like reasonable salaries for Hand and O’Day.
Likewise, $14MM in ’22 comes off as acceptable for Britton, a former Oriole who has continued to serve as a quality late-game option since the Yankees acquired him from their division rivals late in 2018. Britton was effective enough in his first taste of action with the Yankees that they re-signed him to this deal – a three-year, $39MM guarantee that will turn into a four-year, $53MM pact. The move has worked out for both sides, as the 32-year-old has used a ridiculous 76.3 percent groundball rate to post a 2.14 ERA/3.62 FIP in 105 1/3 innings as a Yankee. Based on this news, Britton will continue to be a key part of their bullpen going forward.