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Britton brings Yanks new level of 'pen flexibility

Special to MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Yankees manager Aaron Boone started hearing the rumors in the middle of Tuesday's 4-0 win over the Rays. He heard that there was a possibility his ballclub could be landing one of the top relievers in the game in Zach Britton.

When he finally left the dugout, Boone learned that the Yankees had agreed to a deal with the Orioles to acquire the left-hander for three prospects.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Yankees manager Aaron Boone started hearing the rumors in the middle of Tuesday's 4-0 win over the Rays. He heard that there was a possibility his ballclub could be landing one of the top relievers in the game in Zach Britton.

When he finally left the dugout, Boone learned that the Yankees had agreed to a deal with the Orioles to acquire the left-hander for three prospects.

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Eight things to know about newest Yankee Britton

"We're obviously excited to add a guy of his caliber to add to one of the strengths of our club -- our bullpen," Boone said. "I'm really excited. I heard the rumors flying around during our game, but obviously, I'm really excited."

Britton's arrival has fans and opponents wondering how the Yanks plan to use the two-time All-Star, who has accumulated 139 career saves -- all with Baltimore.

• With Britton in the mix, Boone on the spot

Boone said that while Aroldis Chapman would obviously remain the team's primary closer, he envisions using Britton "a number of different ways," including in save situations when Chapman needs rest.

"I think a guy of his caliber, especially in the regular season, allows us to protect our high-leverage guys," Boone said. "We can give a guy a day and stay away from them, and Britton adds to that. I see him in a variety of different roles, but I'm mostly excited we can get pretty smart with our matchups."

Tweet from @BryanHoch: Zach Britton���s reaction to joining the #Yankees: ���Right now, I���m just excited to get on a winning team and hopefully do some good things. If you have a chance to chase a World Series ring, which obviously they do, it could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.���

The left-handed Britton adds a new layer of dominance to the Yankees' bullpen -- already perhaps the most formidable in the Majors. With lefties Chapman and Chasen Shreve complementing high-leverage righties David Robertson and Dellin Betances, the Yanks had a deep 'pen even before Tuesday night's deal.

But the key with those relievers, Boone said, is that they can get batters out from both sides of the plate, keeping Boone from needing to rely on traditional matchups.

Video: Zach Britton discusses being traded to Yankees

"We're as capable as anyone," Boone said. "We feel as good as any team, that if we get a lead in the middle innings, we'll be able to shut it down -- and we've added to that.

"We don't have to be so married to right-on-right and left-on-left [matchups]. Certainly, Zach falls into that, and as a closer for most of his career, he's obviously used to facing whoever in big-time situations, so that versatility adds a lot to the way we match up."

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that in negotiating the deal for Britton, he was looking to acquire the best assets available to put Boone in the best position to manage a postseason contender.

Video: NYY@TB: Boone, Betances on Britton's value in bullpen

"We want to create an opportunity that, regardless of how a game is playing out, our manager has a chance to navigate with legitimate choices," Cashman said. "You never want to be sitting there looking like you're overmatched with a certain matchup as the inning plays out. … Everything we're trying to do is to be in a position to compete with the odds in our favor."

Tweet from @Yankees: Zach Britton, welcome to the Bronx. pic.twitter.com/3vAdcJUxeh

Britton began his career as a starter with the Orioles, but he transitioned to the bullpen in 2014. Since then, he has posted a 1.72 ERA with 257 strikeouts over 262 innings, relying heavily on a hard sinker.

"He has all the attributes you'd want to have on your team, and we've seen it from across the field, coming out of the opposing bullpen," Cashman said.

Video: Britton traded to the New York Yankees

Britton is expected to join the Yanks on Thursday in time for the opener of a four-game series against the Royals in New York.

For now, the Yankees plan to keep a roster of 13 pitchers and 12 position players, even while a few players deal with day-to-day injuries. Boone said he felt more comfortable doing so to preserve the bullpen, but he said that plan could change if a different need arises.

Greg Zeck is a contributor to MLB.com.

New York Yankees, Zach Britton