After remaining a free agent throughout last season, left-hander Zack Britton officially announced his retirement from professional baseball on Monday, ending his 12-year career.
The 35-year-old, who spent eight seasons with the Baltimore Orioles (2011-18) and five with the New York Yankees (2018-22), revealed his decision to The Athletic’s Britt Ghiroli, sharing, “My gut was telling me it was time to see what life was like on the other side.”
Britton, a third-round selection by the Orioles in 2006, logged 641.0 career innings as a big leaguer over 442 appearances – 396 as a reliever and 46 as a starter. He finished with 154 saves – the 10th most in baseball from 2014-22 – while posting a 3.13 ERA and 532 strikeouts.
— Zack Britton (@zbritton) November 20, 2023
12 MLB seasons
Congratulations to Zack Britton on a great career! pic.twitter.com/lU0p1GVatI
— MLB (@MLB) November 20, 2023
After transitioning to the bullpen in 2014, Britton quickly emerged as one of the sport’s most dominating ninth-inning hurlers, resulting in two All-Star appearances (2015, 2016) and a fourth-place finish in AL Cy Young voting during the 2016 campaign.
The Panorama City, Calif., native led the majors in saves (47) and produced the lowest ERA (0.54) among qualified relief pitchers in 2016. He won the Mariano Rivera AL Reliever of the Year Award as that season’s top relief arm in the American League.
While Britton dominated during the regular season, the All-Star closer watched from the bullpen as Edwin Encarnacion delivered a walk-off, three-run bomb off Ubaldo Jimenez in the ninth inning of the 2016 wild-card game, punching the Toronto Blue Jays’ ticket to the ALDS for a second straight season – a controversial decision that likely still haunts former skipper Buck Showalter.
Overall, Britton earned a 30-22 record and converted 139 saves across 306 games with Baltimore, producing a 3.22 ERA and 425 punchouts over 516.2 innings.
Amidst the Orioles’ rebuild, the shutdown lefty was traded to the Yankees in July 2018, bringing back three minor leaguers, including Cody Carroll, Josh Rogers and Dillon Tate. He recorded just three saves in 25 post-trade relief outings, pitching to a 2.88 ERA with 21 strikeouts.
That was followed by a pair of respectable performances in 2019 and ’20, where Britton posted a sub-two ERA in consecutive seasons while racking up a combined 69 punchouts over 86 appearances.
Zack Britton could have never accomplished his dream of becoming a professional baseball player without his wife Courtney giving up her career to take care of their family. 👏
— MLB (@MLB) November 21, 2023
Things went sideways in 2021, as Britton struggled to a miserable 5.89 ERA during his first 22 games before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery. Despite missing most of 2022, he made a trio of appearances in his late-season return but walked six of his nine batters faced before finishing the year on the IL.
The longtime Oriole held a showcase for interested suitors last March – an event reportedly attended by 10 MLB clubs – but never signed a contract this past season.
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Title: MLB Notebook: Former Orioles, Yankees reliever Zack Britton retires following 12 MLB seasons
Author: Thomas Hall