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Red Sox could keep sticking it to Yankees with Zach Britton swipe

The Red Sox bested the Yankees in the AL East, a title they have copped three straight years. The blood rivals met in the ALDS, and the Red Sox terminated the Yankees’ season by winning three of four games — two at Yankee Stadium, including the clincher — and advancing to the ALCS.

Now, the Yankees could watch Zach Britton, whom they acquired from the Orioles at the July 31 trade deadline, sign with the Red Sox as a free agent and replace fellow free agent reliever Craig Kimbrel as Boston’s closer.

Considering the Red Sox talked with the Orioles prior to the July 31 trade deadline about acquiring Britton but believed the asking price was too high, they are expected to pursue the left-hander, who will turn 31 in December, if they turn away from the right-handed Kimbrel, who’ll be 31 in May.

In addition to Kimbrel and Britton, Andrew Miller, Greg Holland, Jeurys Familia and David Robertson will be among the free-agent reliever class. Trevor Rosenthal, who missed the entire 2018 season after Tommy John surgery, is a free agent now. The Yankees sent scout JT Stotts to watch the right-handed Rosenthal, 28, throw this month. Other organizations were said to be impressed.

Aroldis Chapman’s five-year, $86 million deal comes out to $17.2 million a year and Wade Davis’ three-year contract for $52 million gets him $17.3 million a year from the Rockies. That likely means the going rate for elite closers opens there.

While Britton emphasized a chance to win being more important than closing after the Yankees were eliminated, agent Scott Boras is going to shop Britton as a closer, which means the Yankees might not get a seat at the table since they have Chapman. Like the Yankees, the Red Sox are always in a win-now mode.

“After being here, maybe it’s not as important as I originally thought. I just want to win,’’ Britton said when asked if closing was important to him following the Game 4 loss to the Red Sox. “Being in Baltimore this year was tough. Going to a team that is going to win, I think for a lot of years, this would obviously be one of the destinations I would want to be in, of course. I would love to be back. Going from Baltimore, losing 100 games, to pitching in the playoffs, winning is more important than I thought. Just wish I was better overall. This is going to be a good team for a long time, hopefully I will be a part of it.’’

That won’t happen as long as Chapman remains in pinstripes. Chapman, who’ll be 31 in February, has three years and $45 million remaining on the deal he signed after the 2016 season. All of the $11 million signing bonus has been paid, and the contract has an opt-out clause following the 2019 season.

There are several factors that make Britton attractive.

Since he was dealt during the season, the Yankees can’t drop a qualifying offer ($17.9 million) on him, so the team with which he signs won’t have to give up draft-pick compensation.

He was limited to 41 combined innings with the Orioles and Yankees due to a right Achilles injury suffered last winter that required surgery so his arm wasn’t taxed this past season. When healthy and pitching regularly, the 96-mph sinking fastball is unhittable and the reason he saved 120 games from 2014-16 and 47 in 2016. A left forearm strain limited Britton to 38 games in 2017.

All of Britton’s 331 big-league games have been in the rugged AL East.

Britton appeared in 25 games for the Yankees, going 1-0 with a 2.88 ERA and three saves. In 25 innings Britton fanned 21 but walked 11. In four postseason games Britton worked five innings, struck out four, walked one and posted a 5.40 ERA.

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