The New York Yankees bolstered their bullpen on Saturday night by bringing back reliever Zach Britton on a three-year, $39 million deal with an option for a fourth year.
It extends the 31-year-old southpaw’s stay in the Bronx after he was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles at the 2018 trade deadline. The two-time All-Star’s acquisition for the stretch run added even more firepower to a loaded bullpen that featured the likes of Chad Green, David Robinson, Dellin Betances, and Aroldis Chapman.
But New York’s fourth-ranked bullpen did experience the loss of Robertson this offseason, who opted to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies last week. The loss of Britton would have been a sizable blow considering the Yankees are expected to put heavy reliance upon the bullpen again in 2019.
The addition of Britton was essential last year given the struggles of their starting rotation. While they acquired James Paxton from the Seattle Mariners this offseason, the rest of the rotation remains largely unchanged; and the hypothetical hope that Luis Severino will return to form while Masahiro Tanaka stays healthy is a bit of a gamble.
Britton ensures the back-end of the Yankees bullpen stays strong, but they might not be done, yet.
Jon Heyman of Fancred reported shortly after the re-signing of Britton that the Yankees are still pursuing free-agent right-handed reliever Adam Ottavino.
The 33-year-old New York City native is coming off a career year with the Colorado Rockies, his seventh and likely final season with the club. In 77.2 innings, he posted a career-best 2.43 ERA with 112 strikeouts, an impressive mark considering he called one of the most hitter-friendly parks in Coors Field home.
Much of his success derives from a devastating combination of a sinker and slider that has left plenty of befuddled batters in its wake.
Ottavino would not only add another top-tier arm to the Yankees’ bullpen that replaces Robertson but it also provides general manager Brian Cashman with insurance seeing as Betances will become a free agent following the 2019 season.
It might not be as attractive as the prospective big signing of a free-agent megastar like Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, but it could be just as important should the starting rotation struggle.