Yankees, free-agent reliever Zach Britton agree to three-year deal

The market for left-handed reliever Zach Britton appeared to pick up after the Phillies announced the signing of free agent reliever David Robertson on Thursday. Now, the Yankees have struck a three-year agreement through 2021 to keep Britton in the Bronx. The deal includes a team option for 2022, which the club must exercise or decline following the 2020 season. If the Yankees decline the 2022 team option, Britton may elect to become a free agent for the 2021 season.

CBS Sports ranked Britton No. 35 on our Free Agent Tracker. The Phillies, Angels and Rangers were among other teams that were reportedly interested in Britton this winter. 

Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that Britton's deal with the Yankees will be for three years, with $39 million guaranteed. If the Yankees opt in to the fourth year, then $53 million will be guaranteed. If the Yankees don't and Britton opts out, he'll have made $26 million over the first two seasons.

Britton will also receive a $1 million assignment bonus if he is traded during the course of his new deal with the Yankees, according to Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic.

After the Yankees lost out on Robertson, Britton is a key acquisition as they piece their bullpen back together. Now, New York's bullpen in 2019 seems to be pretty close to full strength:

  1. Aroldis Chapman
  2. Dellin Betances
  3. Zach Britton
  4. Chad Green
  5. Jonathan Holder

Plus, the Yankees have a few minor-league options to choose from for relief such as Luis Cessa and Domingo German.

Britton, 31, returned from a ruptured Achilles tendon in June and appeared in 41 games last season (16 with the Orioles and 25 with the Yankees). He pitched to a 3.10 ERA and 1.23 WHIP with 34 strikeouts and 21 walks in 40 2/3 innings. Britton is represented by Scott Boras and was in search of a four-year deal. It appears he'll get three with an option for a fourth year.

Britton has dealt with injuries over the past two years but he has been one of the best lefty relievers over the past five seasons. He finished fourth in the American League Cy Young voting in 2016 with Baltimore as he posted a 0.54 ERA with 47 saves while giving up just 38 hits in 67 innings. Since transitioning into a full-time reliever in 2014, Britton owns a 1.82 ERA across 287 innings. If the Yankees have a healthy Britton all season, then he just might be one of their best bullpen weapons.

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