The New York Yankees have exercised their option on relief pitcher Zack Britton, Thursday, keeping him on the team through 2022. Additionally, they have declined options on outfielder Brett Gardner and starting pitcher J.A. Happ. The moves were reported by the Associated Press Thursday night and confirmed by the Yankees PR twitter account Friday morning.
On Thursday, the Yankees exercised their 2022 club option for LHP Zack Britton and declined their 2021 options for OF Brett Gardner and LHP J.A. Happ
— Yankees PR Dept. (@YankeesPR) October 30, 2020
The option built into Zack Britton’s contract was unique. If the team chose not to exercise it, he would have still been under contract for 2021, but he would then get to decide to opt out of that year and become a free agent.
Once prorated, Britton’s 2020 salary was $4,814,815. With his opt out now off the table, he is locked in to relieve for the Yankees at $13 million in 2021 and $14 million in 2022. At the end of 2022, he will have earned $44,814,815 during this current four-year contract with the Yankees.
Britton posted a 2.88 ERA in 25 innings pitched after being acquired in 2018. In 2019 and 2020, he posted a 1.90 ERA in 80 1/3 cumulative innings.
Gardner and Happ Options Declined
For Gardner and Happ, their options of $10 million and $17 million will come off the books for the Yankees in 2021.
Gardner, 37, received a $2.5 million buyout. He played in 47 games, but his early season struggles caused him to lose playing time as the season went on. He came on strong at the end of the season to post overall numbers of .223/.354/.382 with five home runs. Gardner has spent his entire career with the Yankees, and he has accumulated 270 stolen bases with a .259/.343/.401 slash line. He was an All-Star in 2015 and won a Gold Glove in 2016.
It is possible that the Yankees re-sign Gardner to a discount contract. He was one of the only left-handed bats in the Yankees’ lineup in 2020.
As for Happ, 38, his contract has been the subject of discussion all season long. His option was a vesting option. If he started 27 games or accumulated 165 innings, the option would have vested. Once the season was shortened, Happ needed ten starts, but he fell one short. Happ is one of three Yankees’ starting pitchers to enter free agency.
Like Gardner, he also rebounded from early season struggles. He pitched very well down the stretch for the Yankees, accumulating one of the best ERAs in MLB from the end of August on. His season totals included a 3.47 ERA and a 1.054 WHIP in 47 1/3 innings. The Yankees acquired Happ in 2018, and he went 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA. He re-signed that offseason, and he has a 4.57 ERA in 210 2/3 innings since.
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