Harping on The Point Further: Trading J.A. Happ and Other Pitching News
If this isn’t my favorite topic to write about- or at least think about- this offseason, then color me surprised.
However, recent moves within the baseball world have not only made my desires for wanting to get rid of J.A. Happ stronger, but I think they have also made J.A. a more desirable starting pitching piece for two teams in particular.
One of these teams I talked about during a piece about trying to replicate the Chase Headley deal from 2017. (Read more about that here.)
However, one team that didn’t fit the requirements has continued to miss out on pitchers this offseason and may look to get desperate soon.
What has Changed the Market Recently?
Late last night, Jon Heyman announced that the Toronto Blue Jays had come to agreements with LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu on a 4-Year, $80 Million deal:
Breaking: Ryu to Jays. 80M, 4 years. — Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 23, 2019
However, this may not be the final move that the Blue Jays will be making this offseason. Scott Mitchell of the Toronto Sun echoes this sentiment, as well as the idea that an inter-divisional trade may occur between the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox for RHP David Price. However, the price- pun intended- for what the Red Sox would be willing to eat off his contract, plus how much they’d want back in prospects is unknown.
Very curious to see how aggressive #BlueJays get from here on out this winter. There’s legit legs to the David Price stuff, that was swirling back in November, but Red Sox will have to pay somewhere in the neighbourhood of $50 million. Atkins might be interested at 3/$46M-ish. — Scott Mitchell (@ScottyMitchTSN) December 23, 2019
On top of this, the Chicago White Sox took another starting pitcher off the market, with agreeing to a 3-Year, $55 Million deal (with a 4th year vesting option) as first reported by Jeff Passan with contract details from Jon Heyman.
BREAKING: Left-hander Dallas Keuchel and the Chicago White Sox are in agreement on a deal, sources tell ESPN. — Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 22, 2019
Keuchel White Sox deal: 3/$55.5M with a vesting 4th year that could take to 4/$74M — Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 22, 2019
Some have seen this as an overpay for the former Cy Young award winner, but for are purposes, this has only made other available starting pitchers a smaller field.
Who’s a Good Fit?
Without trying to fit a trade into any gimmicks or other self-inflicted restrictions about where J.A. Happ could end up in a trade, there are still plenty of teams across the MLB- mainly in the National League- who are still looking for another arm for their rotation. As Jon Heyman tweeted earlier today, this includes the likes of the Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Los Angeles Angels, among others.
Teams that still seek a starter: Twins, Dodgers, Angels, Padres, Phillies, possibly Brewers, Braves. Starters whose names are heard on market: Price, Ray, Boyd, Clevinger, Happ, speculatively Archer, Matz/Stroman, M. Gonzales, Quintana. Should be a wild scramble. — Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 23, 2019
Of teams still looking for starting pitching help, one team sticks out amongst the rest as a good landing spot when it comes to desires for a starting pitcher, connections with the Yankees, and a willingness to eat salary: the Los Angeles Angels, who have been very active on looking through the trade market, according to Jon Morosi.
Why Trading J.A. Happ to the Angels is a Great Move:
The Angles have missed on a crop of talent so far this offseason when it comes to pitching. Yes, they signed Anthony Rendon who may just be one of the Top-10 position players in the MLB to go along with Mike Trout, but they have still missed out on the likes of Gerrit Cole (I wonder where he went), Stephen Strasburg, Zack Wheeler, Madison Bumgarner, etc.
Instead, they’ve traded for Dylan Bundy and signed Julio Tehran. Both solid pitchers to fit into the rotation- as would J.A. Happ- but they still have a hole there that needs to be addressed.
Now, why would the Yankees want to get rid of J.A. Happ?
To clear up $17 Million (up to $34 Million) in salary relief over this and next season. They are currently well above the soft luxury tax threshold, and staying close is a serious thing the Yankees care about.
They don’t need him in the rotation, and have much cheaper (and potentially better) options. With Jordan Montgomery, Michael King (who many are high on), Deivi Garcia in the wings- all of whom are on rookie contracts- the Yankees have many options beyond Happ.
But, why would the Angels want J.A. Happ?
They still could use another innings eater in their rotation. Both Tehran and Bundy have averaged 180 and 168 innings per year over the last three years, but the rest of their rotation in Shohei Ohtani (coming back from TJS, 51.2 innings in 2018), Andrew Heany (averaged 90 innings around two injured seasons) and Griffin Canning (90.1 innings in his rookie year) haven’t been stable in the rotation. J.A. Happ is reliable to put down 160 innings.
Again, they need another arm that they can rely on. With ERA over the past three years, Tehran and Bundy averaged 4.09 and 4.83. Happ was right with them at a solid 4.03, while Ohtani (3.31, great), Heany (4.61), and Canning (4.58). Again, Happ shows a significant improvement over what the Angels currently have for the 2020 season.
As with Tehran and Bundy, the Angels seem to be looking to get players who have had great years in the past and have potential to perform at that level again. J.A. Happ has that potential, as he put in back-to-back years of 3.3 WAR in 2017 and 2018. If they’re looking for finding greatness at the end of his career, Happ is a great candidate.
In Other News:
Chance Adams has been traded to the Royals, per source. The Yankees DFA’d him Wednesday to make room for Gerrit Cole on the roster. — Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) December 23, 2019
The New York Yankees have acquired minor league INF Cristian Perez from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for RHP Chance Adams. — New York Yankees (@Yankees) December 23, 2019
Earlier today, the Yankees traded formerly DFA’ed pitcher Chance Adams to the Kansas City Royals, as first announced by Mark Feinsand.
In return they acquired INF Cristian Perez, a 20-year old shortstop/third-baseman who hit to a .252/.290/.285 (.576 OPS) slash line while in A-Advanced. He didn’t hit a single Home Run, but did collect 42 RBI’s over 117 games.
This is a nothing-for-nothing trade as far as I am concerned. Chances are- again, pun intended- that Adams will play out part of the season with the Royals and end up getting shuttled around a few different teams as he looks to play to his potential.
And, if I ever hear anything great out of Cristian Perez, the Yankees easily won this trade.