Zack Britton announced his retirement from baseball on Monday, and in a conversation with Brittany Ghiroli of The Athletic, offered some parting advice for the Yankees, who he pitched with for the final four-plus seasons of his 12-year career.
The advice? Get back to being the Evil Empire who intimidated opponents with lineups filled with star power, rather than operating on the “budget” that they seemingly have had since falling one game short of the World Series in 2017.
“When I was with the Orioles, you were intimidated to play them,” Britton told Ghiroli. “They had so much talent. The way they carried themselves, you didn’t want to go to New York because they were so imposing, and I feel like we lost a little of that when I was there.
“How do you get back to that? For me, with the Yankees’ budget, they should get the best players. They have, to some extent, but really building powerhouses to make it a place people want to play.”
Britton added that the Bronx has seemingly lost some of its luster when it comes to players wanting to play for the Yanks, which should be a concern and a sign that it’s time to get back to what attracted stars in the past.
“I remember hearing people say, ‘Oh, I don’t want to go to New York,’ and it blew my mind,” Britton said. “That was the most eye-opening thing, talking to opposing players and them saying, ‘It’s not the same coming in there; it’s not as intimidating as a place.’ When I was a young player, the pinnacle was to play for the Yankees because they were so good.”
The Yankees added Giancarlo Stanton after the 2017 season, but expiring contracts helped them slash payroll heading into the 2018 season, and have since maintained an objective of limiting luxury tax penalties. It has become a main topic of conversation when it comes to the current Yankees front office, as star free agents like Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, Corey Seager, and others have seemingly not been given a strong look because of the impact on payroll.
But flexing the team’s financial might isn’t the only way back to prominence for the Yankees, according to Britton.
“I don’t know the one thing to get them back, but those teams used to beat you in so many ways,” Britton said. “They were so well-rounded. It wasn’t ‘Oh, let’s just keep it in the ballpark.’ They could single you to death, steal a base, walk. I think they’ve got to find a way to get back to that.”