The Yankees and Phillies are engaged in a high-profile battle over Manny Machado, but Zach Britton is also a target for both teams.
The race to sign Manny Machado is dominating the headlines, but there’s another key battle taking place between the Phillies and Yankees. Signing Zach Britton may not be the sexiest move of the winter, but it could really help either franchise once October rolls around.
The southpaw reliever isn’t looking for $300 plus million like Machado, but he won’t be signing on the cheap either. At 30 years of age, this is likely Britton’s last chance to cash in via free agency. At the very least, he wants to be paid like a closer even if he’s only used as a setup man by the team that acquires him.
That means any team looking to sign Britton will need to offer him a multiyear agreement paying him somewhere around $15 million per season. That might strike some fans as a hefty price for a reliever, but Britton has the stuff to be a dominant weapon out of the bullpen. His career with the Yankees started off slow after a deal just ahead of the trade deadline, but he came on down the stretch and finished his time in the Bronx with an ERA of 2.88 in 25 appearances.
Both the Phillies and Yankees can use that kind of production late in games. Philadelphia would love to pair Britton with Seranthony Dominguez to create a dominant lefty-righty combination to shut down opponents in the 8th and 9th innings. The former Oriole could also serve as a terrific veteran mentor for the 23-year-old righty.
The Yankees have one of the top closers in the game in the form of Aroldis Chapman, but a balky knee really limited his effectiveness and availability last season. That, combined with his ability to opt out of his current contract next winter, make signing Britton a very attractive option for Brian Cashman and company.
Ultimately, look for both teams to make Britton pretty significant offers. The years may end up being almost as important as the dollars. Security is a big thing for a relief pitcher in his 30s.
There’s also a possibility that the team who doesn’t sign Machado might be in a position to secure Britton as their consolation prize. It will be very interesting to see which free agent chooses to commit first.