New York Yankees: This bullpen stalwart could become a free agent this winter

New York Yankees, Zack BRitton
Jul 28, 2018; New York City, NY, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Zach Britton (53) pitches against the Kansas City Royals during the seventh inning during game two of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are watching from home how the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays, two of their most hated rivals, are going at it in the American League Championship Series for a place in the World Series. The Bombers lost 3-2 in the best-of-five series against Tampa.

Part of the reason behind the failure to advance was because the bullpen wasn’t deep enough to match the Rays’ elite unit. Only Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green and Zack Britton were good and consistent enough to be members of the Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone’s circle of trust.

All three are expected to return in 2021, but technically, one of them could test the free agent waters if certain scenarios present themselves. Britton put pen to paper on a three-year, $39 million contract in January of 2019, with a $14 million option for 2022, which would be the fourth year.

However, that option year should be exercised after the second season of the deal, which is 2020. That means the New York Yankees need to decide this winter if they will want Britton for the next two seasons, which seems like a no-brainer but isn’t official yet. We will know more after the World Series ends.

Will the Yankees let him test the market?

If the Yankees decide to decline Britton’s 2022 option this year, he can choose to become a free agent immediately. That means that, it those criteria are met, the left-handed relief ace could test the market this season.

This development was explained by Britton himself via an email to the New York Post. You can read the news as written by

“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. “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.”

Britton had a 1-2 record with a 1.89 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP this season with the Yankees.