Yankees GM Brian Cashman confirmed what most fans had already expected, telling reporters that “it’s probable you won’t see” Zack Britton in 2022 (link via Ken Davidoff of the New York Post). Cashman didn’t fully rule out the possibility that the lefty could return for a playoff push. The long-time Orioles closer and Yankees set-up man underwent reconstructive elbow surgery in September — something of a surprise at the time, as both club and player had only planned on a procedure to remove bone chips from his left elbow, but that procedure evidently revealed significant damage to Britton’s UCL.
The southpaw arrived in the Bronx from Baltimore in a July 2018 trade and had no problems shifting from closer to a set-up role, logging 25 innings of 2.88 ERA ball before posting a combined 1.90 ERA (and an elite 232 ERA+) across 80 1/3 innings between 2019 and ’20. His 2021 came off the rails, however, as his ERA ballooned to 5.89 behind a BB% spike to 17.1% (his career mark was 9.5% entering the season). Britton’s $14MM salary — which became guaranteed when the Yankees picked up his 2022 option in October 2020 — essentially becomes dead money. The news may mean a bigger role for 2021 deadline acquisition Joely Rodriguez, who re-signed with the Yankees for one-year, $2MM on Wednesday.
Some other notes on injury situations around the game:
- Per The Athletic’s Nick Groke (Twitter link), righty Scott Oberg has undergone another procedure to further address issues arising from repeated blood clots in his arm. Though the righty reliever hasn’t seen a mound since 2019, Groke reports that the Colorado front office wants him in a Rockies uniform next year “even if he’s not able to pitch,” and Oberg has confirmed his desire to return. Oberg scouted and coached while on the IL in 2021, serving as something of a “bullpen Yoda,” per Groke. The Rockies may ask him to shift to that role more formally in 2022. Oberg has a solid 3.85 ERA (3.98 FIP) across 257 1/3 big-league innings spanning five seasons. The 31-year-old had planned to pitch in 2021 after undergoing thoracic surgery in September 2020 that doctors thought would keep the issue from recurring, but the issue returned following a March 2021 Spring Training appearance. As Danielle Allentuck of the Denver Gazette explained last month, Oberg spent a night in the ICU earlier this year ahead of an emergency surgery after his hand went numb and trainers couldn’t find a pulse in his wrist. This more recent procedure was planned, Groke notes.
- The Cubs announced to reporters that left-handed reliever Brad Wieck has been cleared for all baseball activities following a heart ablation procedure to address a irregular heartbeat — the second such procedure he’s undergone in two years (Twitter link via Meghan Montemurro of the Chicago Tribune). The importance of Wieck’s numbers pale in comparison to his health, of course, but he was a stellar bullpen option for the Cubs through early July, when he didn’t allow a single earned run while striking out 28 (albeit alongside 10 walks) in 17 innings. For his career, the 30-year-old Wieck has a 3.77 ERA and high-end 35.9 K% in 59 2/3 innings across parts of four seasons with the Cubs and Padres.