ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Yankees GM Brian Cashman added to an already powerful bullpen Tuesday night acquiring Orioles lefthanded closer Zach Britton in exchange for three pitching prospects.
“Just adds to the long list of guys coming out of our bullpen that are nasty,” catcher Austin Romine said after the Yankees’ 4-0 victory over the Rays.
Righthander Dillon Tate, who was scratched last-minute from his start with Double-A Trenton Tuesday night, is the centerpiece to the deal for the Orioles, who also receive Triple-A pitchers Cody Carroll, a righty, and Josh Rogers, a lefty.
The move is one that simultaneously improves the Yankees and also damages the Astros and Red Sox, two clubs searching for bullpen upgrades.
Not surprisingly, the possibility of acquiring Britton went over well in the Yankees’ clubhouse.
“That’ll be pretty crazy,” Dellin Betances said before the deal became official. “Obviously Britton has been one of the best arms of the last four or five years . . . to add a guy of his caliber would be huge. We could kind of start our own game as a bullpen.”
The 30-year-old Britton, who has a 3.45 ERA in 16 games this season, did not make his 2018 debut until June 12 as he spent the first part of the season rehabbing a torn right Achilles tendon. He had a 7.04 ERA after eight appearances but, entering Tuesday night, had not allowed a run in eight straight games, allowing three hits and four walks, while striking out six, in that span.
Britton, however, is just two years removed from a historic 2016 when he posted a 0.54 ERA and saved 47 games in 69 appearances, making him the rare reliever who was discussed as both a Cy Young and MVP candidate.
Britton gives the Yankees, who entered Tuesday with an AL-best bullpen ERA of 2.75 and AL-leading 448 strikeouts from their relievers, four pitchers with closing experience. Britton joins Aroldis Chapman, David Robertson and Betances who have closed. And more than a few talent evaluators believe Chad Green to be capable of closing as well.
“I believe he’s one of the best relievers in the game,” Chapman said through his translator. “Having the opportunity to add someone like that, with so much talent, would be very helpful to us.”
Betances, who said that during the game word began to spread among the relievers seated in the bullpen that Britton might be on his way, believes Britton can ease the workload overall.
“The biggest thing is Boone can give us more days [off] when we need them and you don’t have to keep running us back out there, which I think he’s done a tremendous job of doing this year,” Betances said. “Adding a guy like Britton is powerful to any bullpen. Getting him on our side, if it’s done, that’s huge for us.”