1. Zack Britton
Nothing like paying someone $14 million who won’t see the field in 2022, right?! If we look at these salaries collectively, that’s $40 million for below-average or non-existent production. Tough scene.
Zack Britton will miss all of next year after undergoing Tommy John surgery recently, which was a feared scenario last offseason when he required another procedure to remove a bone chip from his elbow. Britton’s 2021 was plagued due to a COVID diagnosis, that first elbow surgery, a hamstring issue, and then his second elbow problem.
What makes matters worse is that the Yankees had to make a big decision after the shortened 2020 regarding Britton’s future. Had the team not exercised Britton’s option for 2022 last offseason, he would’ve been able to opt for free agency ahead of the 2021 campaign. What were they going to do? Aside from disappointing playoff appearances, Britton had a 1.91 ERA during the regular season in 2019 and a 1.89 mark in 20 games in 2020.
As a guy who could pitch the seventh, eighth or ninth innings, opting into Britton’s remaining two years and $27 million seemed like a no-brainer … but wouldn’t it have been great if we had a full 2020 rather than a 20-game sample?
Alas, Britton’s salary will be counted against the tax and it’ll make the Yankees think twice about spending big on bullpen arms. Now, they’ll have to rely on cheaper, less experienced options and will look to reset their spending on relievers when both Britton and Chapman come off the books after 2022.