Yankees GM Brian Cashman tasked with unexpected Zack Britton contract issue

The Yankees are faced with a decision on Zack Britton for 2022.

Bet you didn’t know the New York Yankees were faced with this particular decision regarding their bullpen this offseason! We’ve all been focused on moving on from Aroldis Chapman even though he has a no-trade clause, but the situation surrounding Zack Britton has flown under the radar.

On the surface, it appears as if Britton is guaranteed to be with the team next year. But that’s far from the case. General manager Brian Cashman actually has to make a decision regarding the left-hander’s deal for 2022 before that’s set in stone.

Here’s what Britton told the New York Post via email:

“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. 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.’’

So if the Yankees don’t exercise his $14 million team option for the 2022 season after the World Series, Britton’s player option will be activated for 2021 and he can opt to hit free agency. If he does that, it’s safe to assume he’ll sign elsewhere given his tremendous track record with New York.

You don’t think another team will throw a ton of money his way after what he’s been able to accomplish as a Swiss Army bullpen knife in the AL East? Plus, he’s a lefty, which is even more valuable for general managers out there looking to bolster their bullpen.

Britton is still atop his game and losing him would send the relief corps spiraling. If this team wants to compete in 2021, it won’t be able to do it without him. He’s either the closer or the bridge to Chapman, and at this point it’s looking more and more likely the Cuban lefty will be on a different team come December.

The Yankees can’t lose both of them or solely move forward with Chapman, who has failed them in three out of four postseasons now. Paying $27 million for Britton over the 2021 and 2022 seasons sounds a lot better than paying $33 million for Chapman, right? Make the right move, Yankees.