Yankees GM Brian Cashman pulled off another signature move by quickly signing Zach Britton to a reported three-year deal – Whew, what a relief that is.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman does not sit around waiting for the next shoe to drop. Instead, he removes both his shoes and drops them on everyone else with his signature timing, while everyone is sleeping.
According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, the Yankees and Zach Britton have agreed on a three-year deal for $39 million. In keeping with the newest trend in baseball and long-term deals with pitchers and position players, Britton’s pact contains opt-outs for both sides.
According to Passan, “Britton’s deal includes both a club option and a potential player opt-out, according to sources. The Yankees can exercise a fourth-year option after the 2020 season worth $14 million, making the total value of the deal up to $53 million, sources said.” How fair is that?
Zach Britton will re-join the Yankees bullpen, complementing Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, fireballer Chad Green, and a hopefully rejuvenated Tommy Kahnle to reconstruct what has become the primary weapon of the New York Yankees, dating even back to the days of Mariano Rivera.
We’ll probably never know for sure, but it’s a pretty guess the quickness in which Cashman sewed up Zach Britton traces directly to the “defection” of David Robertson, who two days earlier committed to a similar deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Also possible is that Britton watched the Robertson domino fall off the board, deciding the path was clear for him to engage in serious talks with the Yankees, where he likely wanted to be since the beginning of the offseason.
Younger than Roberson by three years at 31, Zach Britton has considerable experience and success as a closer during his tenure of eight seasons with the Baltimore Orioles. A 3rd round draft choice by the Orioles in 2006, Britton collected 147 saves for the Birds, including a league-leading 47 in 2016, finishing 4th in the Cy Young voting.
The backend of the Yankees bullpen now contains two lefties and two righties, giving manager Aaron Boone all the flexibility he should need regarding match-ups with opposing hitters.
Boone’s tension will also be eased considerably by having Zach Britton available as an alternate or co-closer to complement Aroldis Chapman. Yankees fans will recall that Chapman’s 2018 season was bumpy at best, losing time to injury, and struggling with his command of the zone when he returned.
Britton’s presence also negates the need to use Dellin Betances in the closer role, keeping him where he appears comfortable as a set-up man.
The central storyline, though, belongs to Brian Cashman, who always seems to be in the right place at the right time, never missing a beat. Whether it’s coming out of nowhere to snatch James Paxton from the Seattle Mariners before anyone had reached home from the World Series.
Or having the intellect to sign Troy Tulowitzki as insurance against injured shortstop, Didi Gregorius, Cashman always seems to be one step ahead of everyone else in his business.
There’s a caveat, though, which is that all Cashman really does is provide the Yankees with the personnel they need to win – and win big. The team won big in 2018 with 100 victories, but in the end, they won nothing at all.
Soon, the focus and spotlight will shift from Cashman to Aaron Boone and the 25 players in the Yankees clubhouse. There shouldn’t be one player in that room who, with the spirit of Derek Jeter, does not consider last year a failure.
For the moment today brings, though, we can look at Zach Britton and say, “Whew, that’s a relief.”