I know. I know. Pain. But we’re simply going to have to wait until mid-November to even consider clearing Britton’s salary and potentially eating some of it to facilitate a trade to another proto-contender.
Never pay your relievers, folks. Even the ones you think you want to pay.
Britton’s an affable fellow, a players’ union leader, and a lefty who has been legitimately great for the New York Yankees for several years now. There was zero issue with acquiring Britton or extending him, as long as you planned to otherwise operate freely while spending excessively.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing in the rule book that demands Aaron Boone use Britton as his closer, especially when he entered the cornfield with an ERA in the high-5.00s, and exited the cornfield without giving any hi-fives.
The 33-year-old Britton (will be 34 next year) comes with a team option for $14 million attached to him next year. Early on in this offseason, when the Yanks negotiated with their setup man, it seemed like a promising sign. After all, if they were willing to commit to an additional year of $14 million, wouldn’t they also blow past the luxury tax and fortify the rest of the roster?
Alas, nope. We’re exclusively spending money on relievers and DJ LeMahieu in this house.
Britton has unfortunately suffered injury-related slings and arrows this year, succumbing to an elbow cleanup procedure prior to the season, then hurting his hamstring in one of his first games back at Fenway Park. He has rarely found the control necessary to succeed with his ground-ball-inducing arsenal this year, and whether it’s a result of the injury or not, every outing has been an adventure. Some have ended in double plays. Others have ended with Tim Anderson admiring his storybook shot into deep right (corn)field.
If the Yankees do manage to trade Britton this offseason, they’ll have to likely split the salary with their trade partner. These three destinations make sense, as long as New York is willing to do that.
The Yankees must pursue these 3 Zack Britton trades this offseason.
3. Zack Britton to the Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers don’t seem to care much about thresholds of any kind. If any team is looking to trade a somewhat-expensive reliever this offseason, the first place they look should be the team without boundaries out west.
There’s been no resolution to the horrible Trevor Bauer saga, so we don’t know exactly how much money might be coming off the books for the Dodgers this winter. We do know Kenley Jansen will be a free agent, and we also know Andrew Friedman has largely struggled to build a lockdown bullpen around him in recent years.
If the team decides to extend Jansen, they’ll still need to somehow fortify things; somehow, the ingenious LA front office seems to be the only one in MLB that can’t find a stable of dudes throwing 98 who can be immediately imported from Triple-A at the drop of a hat. If Jansen leaves, Blake Treinen and the Bounce-Backs don’t exactly scream “contender”.
Bottom line, the Dodgers have spent on worse than Britton over the past few years in an effort to find a workable bullpen mix. Joe Kelly was certainly a riskier proposition. It’s unlikely Britton will ever be worse than he’s been in 2021, at least until there’s a true downturn in velocity. His offseason barely existed, and his in-season work has been stunted. It’s reasonable to assume he’ll return to a facsimile of his former self.
If the Yankees agree to eat all $14 million here, or at least the majority, perhaps they could get their hands on No. 6 prospect OF Andy Pages or No. 10 prospect RHP Clayton Beeter. Maybe even utility man Zach McKinstry, who’d do very well in the injury-prone Bronx? If not, they’ll have to aim lower, and Britton will likely be swapped for a mid-range top-30 prospect. Perhaps righty Kendall Williams or Futures Game hurler Andre Jackson, who doesn’t appear to be getting a fair shake out there.