Here we go. The annual gut punch. Are we about to take a haymaker just barely over a week after everyone reported to spring training?
The New York Yankees reworked their pitching staff in a big way this offseason, but the marquee move was exercising Zack Britton‘s 2021 option, which turned into a two-year, $27 million contract that will keep him in town through 2022.
As expected, he’s a back-end stalwart, primarily serving as the setup man behind Aroldis Chapman. He’s been the Yankees’ most consistent reliever ever since coming over in a trade with the Baltimore Orioles back in 2018.
Now, the Yankees could see arguably their best bullpen option and back-end infrastructure crumble if this latest news ends up yielding bad results. Britton went for an MRI on Monday.
According to the news out of Yankees camp, manager Aaron Boone said Britton experienced soreness after a bullpen session, which prompted the MRI on his left elbow. He’s awaiting the results and will be meeting with a doctor today.
Boone said that Britton “felt something” later that evening despite the “successful” bullpen, and that while he believes it’s not a UCL/Tommy John issue, we’ll certainly need to wait for the MRI to confirm that.
Not good at all. Very rarely does this kind of news yield a positive result, but Yankees fans have no choice but to remain optimistic, or else their World Series aspirations will take a serious hit if Britton were to go down and miss the entire year.
The bright side? Lucas Luetge has been lighting up spring training as a non-roster invite, so in the event Britton has to miss some time, the Yankees could have another lefty in their back pocket to deploy in the early going.
Britton’s gotten off slow this offseason because he contracted COVID-19 back in January, which was revealed to reporters on Tuesday. We’ve yet to see him pitch in a spring game, but that’s not totally abnormal since the high-leverage bullpen arms are the last ones to come around.
Maybe it’s just soreness from a lack of his usual offseason work, which would be a logical outcome. However, Yankees fans are far too triggered by the most routine injury updates, so until this is settled, everyone will be waiting nervously for the official results.