Yankees activate Zack Britton, place surprise reliever on IL in roster shuffle

Adam Weinrib
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 04: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Zack Britton #53 of the New York Yankees in action against the Minnesota Twins in game one of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium on October 04, 2019 in New York City. The Yankees defeated the Twins 10-4. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 04: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Zack Britton #53 of the New York Yankees in action against the Minnesota Twins in game one of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium on October 04, 2019 in New York City. The Yankees defeated the Twins 10-4. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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The New York Yankees entered Thursday with every intention of activating Scott Effross to join the bullpen, while letting former closer Zack Britton’s availability pend until the weekend as they sorted out their nebulous bullpen structure.

The Effross move happened, as expected, earlier in the day, with a corresponding demotion of Greg Weissert, the team’s rookie short reliever whose 2023 projections probably look rosier than his immediate future in 2022. Good job, good effort, not for this postseason, but definitely come back next year with a head of steam.

By midday, though, the Yankees reversed course on Britton, rebutting the rumors team insiders like Joel Sherman had been running with on Wednesday as the plan came into focus.

Four hours before game time, word leaked that the Yankees would be activating Britton prior to Thursday’s game, welcoming an additional hand on deck for the season’s final 14 games.

The corresponding move? That was set to be announced “just before” Thursday’s game … until Sherman broke it, revealing it was likely to be rubber-armed Wandy Peralta sent to the injured list. Minutes later, Aaron Boone confirmed Peralta would be heading to the shelf — not with an arm or shoulder issue, though, but with a back problem.

Yankees activate Zack Britton, reportedly send Wandy Peralta to IL

The bottom line was, Britton was unlikely to be activated without an injury changing the equation or a detrimental team decision being made, just so the Yankees could experiment with their former star left-hander.

If it wasn’t a Peralta injury, it would’ve been a Lucas Luetge DFA or a demotion of either Clarke Schmidt or Ron Marinaccio, both of whom feel like relative locks for the playoff roster.

Now, Peralta — who didn’t warm up in the two-game Pirates series and struggled in his outing in Milwaukee Sunday, recording no outs in an attempt to hold a six-run lead — can rest ahead of the postseason, while hopefully returning in short order.

Britton dominated across three levels of the minors, throwing a shutout inning at Double-A Somerset, 3.1 shutout frames in Scranton, and 2.1 innings with a single run allowed at Low-A.

There was no way for the Yankees to know how his ultra-quick rehab would translate, though, without some MLB roster finagling.

On Wednesday, Britton was in purgatory. On Thursday, an overworked reliever slid out of the picture to give him a chance. Funny how that works sometimes. Let’s see what he’s got.

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