Yankees: 2021 Free Agent Replacements for Zack Britton

New York Yankees reliever Zack Britton (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
New York Yankees reliever Zack Britton (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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If Zack Britton opts out after the 2020 MLB season, here’s how the New York Yankees can replace him.

Oh, what a complicated opt-out web we weave, right? Yeesh. At the end of the 2020 MLB season, however long it may last, Zack Britton will be entering his age-33 campaign staring an opt-out choice in the face. If he doesn’t take the bait, he’s locked in through 2022 (if the Yankees pick up his fourth-year option).

Basically, if Britton dominates for three more years, he’ll never get a large free agency payday again, hitting the market as a 35-year-old reliever. And maybe that’s OK with him? He certainly loves being in the Bronx, and what he provides is steadiness over volatility. This could simply be his home at this juncture.

The bottom line is, it’s a tough decision at this age that’s only going to get tougher with a truncated season ahead of him. If Britton makes the bold call and wants a bit more security following 2020, the Yankees do have some solid options in free agency if they don’t want to make another mutual commitment after giving Aroldis Chapman a long-term home last fall.

4. Yankees Target: Kirby Yates

Yankees target
San Diego Padres closer Kirby Yates (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

Kirby Yates of the San Diego Padres could be a great fit in New York with the Yankees.

Hey, after all, he’s been here before, right?

Yates is another “one that got away,” toiling in the Yankees bullpen in 2016, posting a 5.23 ERA in 41.1 innings, and showing very little indication that he’d eventually explode onto the scene in San Diego. But the 26th-round pick out of Hawaii is now among the best in the MLB.

Trust me — you’re going to hear a lot about Yates’ free agency next winter whether Britton opts out or not, especially considering a pending lockout the next winter may make it more difficult to accrue talent.

The bottom line is, Yates is the perfect example of a current closer who should be more than willing to morph into a fortifier on a contender (much like Britton was). Closing isn’t his entire persona. He doesn’t breathe fire or enter to “Hell’s Bells” like Trevor Hoffman. He’s simply the most dominant reliever on his own roster, and would likely be more than happy to fill any role in a larger pond.

1.19 ERA. 101 K in 60.2 innings pitched. Yeah, that would look good in pinstripes.