NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 15: Zack Britton #53 of the New York Yankees pitches during the seventh inning against the Houston Astros in game three of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 15, 2019 in New York City.
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The New York Yankees added an extra year to star reliever Zack Britton’s contract when they picked up his contract option Thursday night.

The New York Yankees have picked up the fourth-year option on left-handed reliever Zack Britton’s contract. Britton seemingly announced the news himself on Twitter, and Andy Martino of SNY later confirmed it.

Britton, 32, signed a three-year, $39 million deal with the Yankees after the 2018 season. The contract contained an interesting clause wherein the team had until three days after the 2020 World Series to pick up an option for a fourth year worth $14 million. If New York didn’t pick up the option, Britton could have opted-out and tested the free agency market.

Now, the Yankees can look forward to two more years of Zack Britton. He posted a 1.89 ERA with eight saves in 2020 and is a key piece of New York’s strong bullpen. His power sinker has resulted in a career groundball rate (GB%) of 67.8%, and Britton was also an All-Star closer with the Baltimore Orioles for years.

All in all, though, this was the right move for the Yankees even if it does complicate re-signing DJ LeMahieu and Masahiro Tanaka. We all saw how big a loss Tommy Kahnle was this season when he went down with Tommy John surgery. Zack Britton was the most consistent cog in the bullpen machine leading up to closer Aroldis Chapman.

Moreover, it just goes to show that the Yankees still aren’t afraid to spend the big bucks even after massive financial losses. After all, they still play in the nation’s largest media market. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how general manager Brian Cashman addresses free agency following this decision.

One way or another, the Yankees can look forward to another stable bullpen with Zack Britton handling the eighth inning. Losing him would have left an unimaginable void in the late innings, one that isn’t particularly replaceable now.

Additionally, we already know free agency this year won’t be particularly active. Even if the option wasn’t picked up, Britton was unlikely to leave $13 million on the table.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.