AUGUST 24: Britton is going for a second opinion, manager Aaron Boone told reporters (including Lindsey Adler of the Athletic). Some form of surgery is apparently on the table as a potential outcome.
AUGUST 23: The Yankees announced Monday that they’ve placed lefty Zack Britton on the 10-day injured list with a left elbow sprain, recalled outfielder Jonathan Davis from Triple-A Scranton and reinstated righty Clay Holmes from the Covid-19-related injured list. Additionally, the Yankees paused Miguel Andujar’s minor league rehab assignment and transferred him to the 60-day injured list.
Last October, the Yankees picked up Britton’s $14MM option for 2022, as declining it would have allowed the lefty to become a free agent. In a sense, the club made a $27MM commitment for 2021-22. In March of this year, it became apparent that Britton would require arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone chip in his left elbow. This delayed his season debut until June 12th. Not long after, he returned to the IL with a hamstring strain. Never a control pitcher, Britton saw his walk rate this year balloon to 17.1% in 22 appearances. His typically ridiculous groundball rate has remained, but Britton also lost his seeming ability to repress batting average on balls in play (.230 from 2018-20). The result has been heavy traffic on the bases and a 5.89 ERA, perhaps related to a drop in fastball velocity exceeding two miles per hour.
Britton had already tumbled down the Yankees’ bullpen depth chart, with the team’s highest-leverage work this month going to Jonathan Loaisiga, Wandy Peralta, and Chad Green. Another pricey reliever, Aroldis Chapman, returned from an IL stint for elbow inflammation on August 18th.
Andujar has been on the 10-day injured list since July 10 due to a left wrist sprain, so since his 60-day clock is retroactive to that date, he now isn’t eligible to return until well into September. There hasn’t been any specific word on a setback, though since Andujar hasn’t played in any minor league rehab games since last Wednesday, something certainly appears to be amiss. Andujar only began his rehab assignment last Tuesday, appearing in two games.
Between this injury and his prior status of getting shuttled back and forth between Triple-A and the Yankees’ roster, 2021 is shaping up as another lost season for Andujar, who has hit .253/.284/.383 in 162 plate appearances over 45 games this year. Since finishing second in AL Rookie Of The Year voting in 2018, Andujar has managed only a .588 OPS over 276 PA at the big league level, due to both injuries and the fact that the Yankees seem to have largely moved on. Gio Urshela’s emergence in 2019 covered Andujar’s old spot at third base, and recent attempts to convert him to an outfielder also haven’t yielded any additional playing time.