Yankees: Who will replace Zack Britton in wake of elbow surgery news?


It’s bad news, but it’s not the worst news.

When New York Yankees fans were hit with Zack Britton undergoing an MRI due to soreness in his left elbow earlier on Tuesday, it prompted the “here we go again” response.

Another untimely injury to one of the team’s most crucial players. You hear anything with “MRI” and “elbow” and immediately think Tommy John surgery.

But in Yankees world, the team’s latest update on their setup man is sadly good news.

Britton will undergo surgery to remove a bone spur in his left elbow on Wednesday and will be out of action for a while. But it’s not the entire season, so that helps!

Expect a similar timeline as Gio Urshela’s. The Yankees third baseman had the same procedure back in December.

So now what? Do the Yankees have to make a trade? Does a non-roster invite get the call on Opening Day? What about a prospect?

Given the Yankees signed left-hander Justin Wilson this offseason, there’s definitely not an acute sense of urgency to make a drastic move, especially when you consider Britton’s timetable. He could be back in as early as three months, but let’s be safe and say it’ll be four. That puts him right in line with the second half of the year.

It’s not outlandish to think the Yankees can get by for that long, especially with how left-hander Lucas Luetge is performing in spring training. He was signed to a minor league deal months back and hasn’t pitched in the bigs since 2015, but he’s thrown three clean frames and has struck out eight batters. He could be an option, especially if the Yankees want to fill the left-handed void.

What about Deivi Garcia, though? It’s widely believed he’ll be battling with Domingo German for the fifth spot in the rotation, but what if the Bombers go with a six-man rotation to begin the season to avoid taxing the bullpen? Just don’t skip over Gerrit Cole, that’s all.

That could help the Yankees eat innings, give the proper rest to Corey Kluber, Jameson Taillon and Domingo German, all of whom have pitched very little since the start of 2019. Pitchers are going to be taxed regardless, given the nature of the 2020 season setting them back in particular, so using Jordan Montgomery, German and Garcia as your other three arms backing up Cole, Kluber and Taillon could do wonders.

There’s no immediate solution here, and the Yankees won’t be acting in haste. But they have potential answers in front of them with these two options (and more!). Let the rest of spring play out and see who’s ready to rise to the occasion.