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Yankees sign Zach Britton, keep the bullpen a strength

The bullpen would have taken a huge hit without both David Robertson and Britton.

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Divisional Round - Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees - Game Four Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

It’s January, Manny Machado still hasn’t made a decision, and the Yankees have turned their attention elsewhere. After letting David Robertson sign with the Phillies on Thursday, the Bombers decided to bring back Zach Britton instead. According to Jeff Passan, the deal is for three guaranteed years. After the second season, the Yankees will be able to exercise a fourth-year option. If they choose not to, he’ll be able to opt out after the second year. You can read our coverage of the news here.

This is a move that they really had to make. Losing both D-Rob and Britton would have been a blow to the ‘pen, and that’s been their biggest strength for years now. First we had Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman, and Dellin Betances. Then they lost Miller and added Robertson to the mix. The late-2018 version of the bullpen that featured both Britton and Chad Green was probably the best version of the super-bullpen to date.

Of course, at the 2018 trade deadline, their decision to acquire Britton was one that stemmed from necessity. There weren’t any ace pitchers that Brian Cashman could shake loose, so improving the bullpen was one way to get around a weaker rotation. The good news is that things in the starting pitcher department are much better heading into 2019. James Paxton and J.A. Happ are much better than the Sonny Gray/Domino German/Luis Cessa situation that the Bombers were stuck with for most of last season.

It’ll be interesting to see where the rest of the offseason takes the Yankees. They would achieve full super-bullpen status if they find a way to add Adam Ottavino, too. However, they would have a more well-rounded team if they’re able to land Manny Machado. This could be their last big move of the offseason, or we could see them sign both players. We still don’t know if they’re planning to stay under the luxury threshold, and this move doesn’t shed any light on that. Ken Rosenthal speculated that they’re tightening their budget and doesn’t expect them to spend big, though.

All things considered, this is a great deal for the Yankees. It helps to keep the bullpen a strength, and the contract has some unique opt outs if either party is dissatisfied. As long as the Yankees don’t cry poor and somehow use this move as a reason that they weren’t able to sign Machado, it’s an excellent one.