ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – New York manager Aaron Boone said newly acquired reliever Zach Britton will fill a variety of roles at the back end of the Yankees bullpen but emphasized that Aroldis Chapman’s role remains the same.
“Chappy is our closer,” Boone said before Wednesday’s 3-2 loss at Tampa Bay. “I’m sure there will be opportunities on a day when maybe we need to stay away from Chappy or it’s three in a row for Chappy, those kind of things. Having so many quality guys, that allows us to really preserve and protect them.”
The Yankees acquired Britton from the rebuilding Baltimore Orioles for three prospects late Tuesday, a trade expected to bolster New York’s bullpen for the stretch run.
Chapman left a July 7 outing against Toronto with left knee discomfort.
“He’s been dealing with the issue,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said during a conference call. “He’s been successful despite the issue and feels it’s a nonissue other than the fact that we just have to deal with it and it’s a maintenance thing. It didn’t factor into any acquisition.”
Britton will join the Yankees for Thursday night’s home game against Kansas City.
The 30-year-old joins Chapman, David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Chasen Shreve, Chad Green, Jonathan Holder and Adam Warren in an already strong bullpen.
“We’re certainly as capable as anyone,” Boone said.
The Yankees entered Wednesday five games behind the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox, who obtained starter Nathan Eovaldi from Tampa Bay less than 12 hours after the Britton deal.
Britton began the season on the disabled list after tearing his right Achilles tendon in December. He made his debut on June 12 and has appeared in 16 games, going 1-0 with a 3.45 ERA and four saves. He has not allowed a run in his last eight appearances, allowing just three hits over eight innings.
“We certainly had a chance recently to see him up close and personal when he was carving up our lineup,” Cashman said. “I don’t even think we saw the best of him yet, and we hope the best is yet to come.”
In 2016, Britton was 2-1 with a 0.54 ERA and 47 saves in 47 chances. He converted an AL-record 60 consecutive save opportunities from Oct. 1, 2015, to last Aug. 21.
“I know I don’t like facing him,” Yankees center fielder Aaron Hick said with a smile. “When a guy throws 98 mph and it goes straight down, it’s kind of hard.”
The Yankees are responsible for $4,387,097 of Britton’s $12 million salary this year. New York began the season with a $179 million payroll for purposes of the luxury tax, which left the team room to add salaries and remain under the $197 million threshold.
The Yankees may not be done dealing.
“We’d certainly love to add to the rotation,” Cashman said.
Right-hander Dillon Tate is heading to the Orioles along with left-hander Josh Rogers and right-hander Cody Carroll.
Notes: Cashman expects C Gary Sanchez (right groin strain) to be back at the end of August or early September.
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