The 2020 World Series just ended, but on Thursday the New York Yankees exercised reliever Zack Britton's club option for the 2022 season, according to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. Yes, the 2022 season. Had the Yankees declined to pick up the option (valued at $14 million), then Britton would've had the right to opt for free agency this winter, thereby voiding the $13 million he's owed for the 2021 season. It's unclear if he would've exercised that right.
Britton, 33 come December, just wrapped up the second of what will be a four-year pact. In 20 appearances this season, he posted a 1.89 ERA and managed a 2.29 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He remained particularly effective at generating weak groundball contact: according to Statcast, his average exit velocity against was in the 65th percentile, while his average launch angle against was -6.8 degrees, or the lowest figure in the league. Only one other pitcher -- Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Victor Gonzalez -- qualified and had a launch angle below -2 degrees.
With Britton's option out of the way, the Yankees can now move on to addressing their other offseason business. That includes, among other items, figuring out if they'll exercise outfielder Brett Gardner's $10 million option for next season. Gardner's contract calls for a $2.5 million buyout, meaning the Yankees are really deciding whether he's worth the additional $7.5 million investment. He finished the year with a 108 OPS+.
Beyond that, the Yankees will have to address their impending free agents. That group includes infielder DJ LeMahieu, who will be one of the top hitters available, as well as three starting pitchers, in righty Masahiro Tanaka and lefties James Paxton and J.A. Happ. Of those four, Happ would appear to be the only one the Yankees are uninterested in retaining.