Nothing gold can stay — especially not an intact MLB roster with a pending labor dispute on the horizon. Yankees fans know that better than anyone, and it doesn’t take an expert tea leaf reader to see that changes are coming this offseason, perhaps involving a few players who were beloved until recent months.
Likely, those changes will involve one player who’s still beloved…and, honestly, should probably remain part of the team’s future.
That’s not our decision to make, though.
We’re not saying these three players will absolutely, positively, 100% be gone at the end of the year. We’re just pointing out that things are trending that way, and fans should prepare themselves.
Once this season ends, MLB will enter a new collective bargaining agreement (we hope) that likely installs new thresholds for taxation. Or…the players and owners will bicker for an extremely long time, delaying our gratification and putting the baseball season on pause.
For our sake, hopefully things turn out well and the Yankees can move forward without financial restrictions after sneaking under the luxury tax threshold, but there’s a chance some future wheeling and dealing will be financially-based. After watching Hal Steinbrenner function, you can’t be surprised if he weighs the pros and cons of a bloated contract for a fungible asset and attempts to move some money around.
After all, there’s Corey Seager and Carlos Correa to pay!
The Yankees will try to keep as many controllable (and cheap) assets as possible on their 2022 roster, but they will also almost certainly be wading into the free agent pool. That could leave these three players to float elsewhere.
Prepare for these 3 Yankees to leave the Bronx after 2021.
3. Zack Britton
When the Yankees picked up Zack Britton’s 2022 team option prior to 2021 even beginning, we thought that might signal some kind of renewed willingness to spend this season and blow past their previous mandates.
Well…not so much. Locking in Britton’s expensive salary for two seasons at a time was a show of faith, but it quickly led to an offseason full of cost-cutting measures (Adam Ottavino to your chief rival?) and low-cost signings (Brett Gardner over Joc Pederson). The least Britton could’ve done to justify the team’s faith in his importance was produce to his peak, though, right?
Unfortunately, due in large part to an elbow surgery and some lower-half complications after his return, we haven’t gotten to see the real Britton much at all this season. Unable to locate his high-powered sinker very often, he’s resorted to finding the middle of the plate with lowered velocity. After he failed to protect a one-run lead following Giancarlo Stanton’s heroics in the cornfield against the White Sox, that felt like the breaking point; Britton asked out of future save opportunities, relegating him to moderate mop-up duty (when possible) for a bit.
The Yankees are going to be Britton’s biggest fans for the remaining few weeks of the season, begging for a rebound not just to buoy their postseason chances, but to increase the odds of selling a contender on him as the missing piece for the final year of his deal in 2022. Relievers have never been more interchangeable, and paying this sum for any back end guy is usually a fool’s errand.
Historically, the Yankees have been able to absorb these small mistakes. We’re not sure what next season’s finances will look like, though, and Britton will likely be shopped before things get worse.