Yankees Shed Wright

The Yankees shed $3 million in payroll over the weekend, dealing righthander Jaret Wright to the Orioles for righthanded reliever Chris Britton.

Wright, who signed a three-year, $21 million deal with New York in 2005, had two disappointing seasons in the Bronx. He had shoulder problems in his first season with the club, and finished 5-5, 6.08 in just 64 innings. Though he was healthy this season, Wright sputtered often, not getting past 6 1/3 innings in any of his 27 starts and wound up 11-7, 4.49 in 140 innings.

Originally a first-round pick (10th overall) of the Indians in 1994, Wright’s best season came in Atlanta–with Orioles pitching coach Leo Mazzone–in 2004 when he went 15-8, 3.28 in 186 innings. After the 30-year-old righthander was released by Cleveland, Wright was signed by the Padres and pitched out of the bullpen in San Diego in 2003 before heading to the Braves.

As part of the deal, the Yankees will pick up $4 million of the $7 million Wright is owed in 2007.

Britton spent the bulk of 2006 in the Orioles bullpen, going 0-2, 3.35 in 42 innings. An eighth-round pick in 2001, Britton is a strike-thrower that features a 90-93 mph fastball and tight curveball.

Britton, 24, does not come without medical baggage as well. He needed surgery after a comebacker hit him in the face at Rookie-level Bluefield in 2002, and he missed the entire 2003 season after having another procedure to clean out bone chips from his elbow.

He spent much of 2004 in extended spring training to recover from the injuries, then the O’s put him in a long relief role at high Class A Frederick in 2005, where he flourished. While with the Keys, Britton went 6-0, 1.60 while flashing 95 mph heat and helped Frederick win the Carolina League title.

Britton opened 2006 at Double-A Bowie, and moved up and down from Baltimore over the course of the year. He went 1-0, 1.60 with a 24-6 strikeout-walk ratio in 16 innings for the Bay Sox.

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