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Britton staying till '22; Gardner a FA

@BryanHoch
October 30, 2020

NEW YORK -- The Yankees settled their first pieces of offseason business on Friday, exercising an option that will keep left-hander Zack Britton in their bullpen through 2022, while declining options for next season on outfielder Brett Gardner and left-hander J.A. Happ. • Hot Stove Tracker “Very excited to continue

NEW YORK -- The Yankees settled their first pieces of offseason business on Friday, exercising an option that will keep left-hander Zack Britton in their bullpen through 2022, while declining options for next season on outfielder Brett Gardner and left-hander J.A. Happ.

Hot Stove Tracker

“Very excited to continue the pursuit of a championship with the Yankees,” Britton said on Twitter.

Britton, who will turn 33 in December, had a unique clause in his contract that required the Yankees to pick up a $14 million option for 2022. Had they not, the sinkerballer could have elected free agency, forgoing his $13 million salary for '21.

Instead, Britton projects to remain an important figure in the Yanks’ bullpen hierarchy, setting up for left-hander Aroldis Chapman. Britton was 1-2 with a 1.89 ERA and eight saves in 20 appearances for New York this past season. He was also an instrumental figure off the field, playing a crucial role as the club’s MLB Players Association representative during the coronavirus shutdown.

“He had a great year,” general manager Brian Cashman said on Oct. 14. “He was fantastic in every way, shape and form -- in terms of performance and in terms of the leadership he provided for his players on behalf of the union.”

The Yankees declined to pick up Gardner’s $10 million option, instead paying a $2.5 million buyout. The team’s longest-tenured player, Gardner batted .223/.354/.392 with five homers and 15 RBIs in 49 games this season. Gardner played well in September, earning starts in five of the Yanks’ seven postseason games.

It is possible that the Yankees could negotiate a lower price to re-sign Gardner, who has said that he hopes to continue wearing pinstripes in 2021. New York’s outfield currently projects to feature Clint Frazier, Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge in starting roles, with Mike Tauchman also in the mix as a reserve.

Britton made four appearances during the playoffs, charged with a pair of runs in Game 2 of the Wild Card Series against the Indians before working four scoreless frames against the Rays in the American League Division Series.

A two-time AL All-Star (2015, '16) while with the Orioles, Britton is 5-3 with a 2.14 ERA and 14 saves over 111 appearances since being acquired by the Yankees in a July 2018 trade. Britton re-signed with the Yankees in January 2019.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.