No guarantee these key veterans will remain with the Yankees


A potent smell smothered River Ave on Wednesday as workers lathered the support structures of the elevated subway line with a coat of black paint, an appropriate color a day after the Yankees’ season died.

Less than 24 hours after the Yankees were eliminated with a 4-3 loss to the Red Sox in Game 4 of the ALDS players, coaches and staff entered and left the garage on River Ave.

Three who exited could have done it for the last time, since changes will be made to a team that won 100 games and beat the A’s in the AL wild-card game but was dominated by its rivals in the ALDS.

The Yankees aren’t likely to toy with their blueprint of hitters with big biceps and power arms in the bullpen, but in two cases it won’t entirely be up to the club.

David Robertson, who was spotted entering and leaving the Stadium, is a free agent. So is Zach Britton. Teamed with Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances and Chad Green, Robertson and Britton helped the bullpen become one of the best in the game.

Shortly after the World Series ends, Britton and Robertson will enter free agency, as will fellow pitchers CC Sabathia, J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn.

“I would like that to happen,’’ the 33-year-old Robertson said when asked after Game 4 if he wanted to return to the Yankees. “But I have to do what is best for me and my family.’’

Robertson left the Yankees via free agency after the 2014 season when he signed a four-year deal worth $47 million with the White Sox. He won’t command those years and dollars this time, but teams certainly will have interest in the right-hander who still has a tantalizing breaking ball, steel nerves and an ocean of experience in the spotlight.

In a team-leading 69 games, Robertson went 8-3 with a 3.23 ERA and struck out 91 in 69 ²/₃ innings.

Britton was the Orioles’ closer from 2014 to 2016 when he saved 120 games and this is his first crack at free agency after a season that started on the disabled list due to an Achilles’ tendon injury that required surgery in the offseason. Traded to the Yankees before the July 31 trade deadline, Britton went 1-0 with a 2.88 ERA and three saves in 25 innings pitched for the Yankees working in front of Chapman and Betances.

While agent Scott Boras will certainly shop Britton, who made $12 million this season, as a closer, his Bronx experience agreed with the left-hander.

“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. “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.’’

Sabathia said late in the season that he will pitch one more year and then retire. And that it doesn’t have to be with the Yankees, with whom he has been since leading them to the 2009 World Series title.

That’s not necessarily the case with Brett Gardner, 35, who became a bench player when Aaron Judge returned from a chip fracture in his right wrist late in the season.

“I’m not going to stand here and say I don’t want to play anymore baseball or that I’m done. My body feels great,” said Gardner, who hit .236 with a .322 on-base percentage in the final leg of a four-year, $52 million deal. The Yankees hold a $12.5 million option for next year with a $2 million buyout.

“I would love to be back but we’ll sit down and figure that out at the right time,” he said. “I’ve never played anywhere else. We’ll see what that looks like. I know they’ve got a lot of young guys on the roster. I’ve been here for a long time and my agent and I have a great relationship with [general manager Brian Cashman]. I’m sure when the time is right we’ll sit down and talk about that.’’



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