Yankees southpaw Zack Britton will undergo surgery next month to remove bone chips from his left elbow, he tells reporters (including Bryan Hoch of MLB.com). Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who will perform the procedure, will also examine Britton’s UCL, but the veteran reliever noted that the primary concern appears to be the bone chips. (Jon Heyman of the MLB Network reported yesterday that this was the likeliest outcome).
There’s no indication of a recovery timeline for Britton. He had already been transferred to the 60-day injured list, effectively ending his 2021 season. Whether Britton is expected to be at full strength for Spring Training remains to be seen. This will be the second elbow procedure the 33-year-old has undergone this season. In early March, Britton required arthroscopic surgery — also to alleviate bone chips — that kept him from making his season debut until mid-June.
In between the injuries, Britton struggled to his worst season since he moved to the bullpen in 2014. The typically reliable relief ace only managed 18 1/3 innings of 5.89 ERA ball. Britton continued to rack up ground balls at one of the league’s best clips (68%), but his walk rate spiked to a career high 17.1%. Along the way, the average velocity on Britton’s hellacious sinker fell to 92.6 MPH, more than two ticks lower than its 2018-20 level.
Britton remains under contract with New York for next season. Last October, the Yankees exercised his $14MM club option for 2022. (Declining the option would’ve allowed Britton to reach free agency last winter). New York’s training staff will work to get Britton back to his standard form next season.