7:48pm: Happ will receive $10MM in 2016 and $13MM apiece for the next two years of the deal, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports on Twitter.
6:46pm: The Blue Jays have announced the signing of lefty J.A. Happ to a three-year, $36MM contract. Happ, 33, is represented by Dave Rogers.
With the signing, Toronto has brought back a pitcher who spent about two-and-a-half seasons with the club before he was traded away last winter. (That swap returned outfielder Michael Saunders.) During his first 291 frames with the Jays, from 2012 through 2014, Happ worked to a 4.39 ERA with 7.9 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9.
Things did not go terribly well for the veteran at the start of 2015. In his twenty-one outings with the Mariners, Happ posted a 4.64 ERA and carried a 6.8 strikeout-per-nine rate that fell below his career average.
But that all changed when the Pirates added Happ in one of the least-discussed moves of the trade deadline. In his final 63 1/3 innings of the season, the southpaw allowed just 13 earned runs, three home runs, and 13 walks while striking out 69 opposing hitters.
While the Blue Jays obviously won’t be expecting Happ to maintain a sub-2.00 ERA rate, it’s fair to wonder whether to what extent that mid-season turnaround will stick. Happ did not seem to benefit from a leap in velocity or major change in his offerings. Instead, the most obvious apparent differences before and after the trade were that he began relying much more heavily on his fastball, threw slightly more strikes, and lucked into somewhat more favorable matchups, as Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs explained late in the season. Happ hasn’t had any significant arm issues since 2010, and has mostly been healthy except for freak injuries, but he has never thrown more innings than the 172 he totaled last year.
Happ joins Marco Estrada (re-signed before the qualifying offer decision deadline) and Jesse Chavez (acquired via trade) as key pitching additions. President Mark Shapiro, interim GM Tony LaCava, and their staff seem to have preferred shorter-term commitments to veteran arms. Toronto obviously chose its targets and moved swiftly, as those represent three of the most significant moves of the still-early offseason.
It remains to be seen precisely how the Jays staff will be put together. Marcus Stroman and R.A. Dickey seem locks, along with Estrada and now Happ. It certainly seemed that Chavez would also take a rotation spot, given that the club parted with a cheaper, more controllable reliever in Liam Hendriks to add him. Drew Hutchison remains an option despite a rough 2015, as do youngsters Roberto Osuna and Aaron Sanchez — both of whom were quality late-inning pen arms last year.
MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes predicted that Happ would land a three year deal, but saw him as more likely to land a $10MM annual guarantee. By signing early, though, Happ was able to maximize his price — aided, no doubt, by the fact that many other quality, mid-range starters came with lengthier contract requests and/or the need to sacrifice a draft pick.
Happ becomes the highest-rated player on that top fifty list (30th) to sign. It certainly bodes well for the rest of the pitching market that he was able to secure such a healthy deal. Hurlers such as Hisashi Iwakuma, John Lackey, Scott Kazmir, Ian Kennedy, and Yovani Gallardo will all surely point to that contract as a floor.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Honestly, I thought he mightve resigned with the pirates again. Anyways, like the signing
Makes perfect sense for both sides. Jays get the 2-3 starter they need, Happ gets a familiar scene
More like 4-5 starter, unless he can continues to pitch like he was in Pittsburgh.
Bank On It
He’s a number 3 at best
That’s a lot of money for a mediocre pitcher can’t imagine what iwakuma will get now probably 50 million over 3 years cause I thought iwakuma would get 3/36 but happ did and kuma is a lot better
Happ is barely a 4-5 in the AL East. This isn’t a sensible deal at all for the Jays; this is going to hinder their ability to negotiate with both Bautista and Encarnacion. With this signing, they definitely can’t afford both, and the departure of one is surely going to affect the desire of the other to stay.
Just Another Fan
Interesting signing: is Stroman-Dickey-Happ-Chavez-Estrada a playoff rotation? Only one of those guys has thrown over 181 IP.
That rotation looks very similar to the one they had last year. Ya know, when they had to go trade for David Price and were praying for the day Marcus Stroman would come back.
Its just not a playoff rotation.
Just Another Fan
It’s almost entirely question marks…you can say that on a lot of teams but these in particular are all pretty big question marks.
I would honestly like to see them sign Davis and go for the 7-runs-a-game team, because Bautista and Endy might leave at the end of 2016 anyway and they’d need a power bat to replace at least one of them.
Man I was really hoping he’d resign with the Pirates. best of luck to Happ and hopefully he shows that his second half wasn’t a fluke
Well I guess this takes them out of the Price sweepstakes.
Unless they get rid of a starter, there’s no reason to go after price now. Looks like they are all set with their rotation
They were never in it to begin with.
I didn’t think so either, but there were reports saying otherwise. Regardless, this is a little less than half the AAV for Price. Doubt they would even consider spending an extra 30MM+ a year now.
Why why why why why why
Because because because because because because
Because of the better than average things he does
Because JA saw the Wizard … the wonderful Wizard Searage.
He was above average for two months at the end of last season. In the 3 1/2 years before that he was well below average. As a Rays fan, I’m glad the Jays paid more attention to the final two months.
Because it’s 2015
Happy to have Happ back! I hope Pittsburgh wasn’t a fluke because his aav salary for is 12 million, and for a guy like that, it seems like a bit much.
Hot damn that deal. $12m/yr. Hope he keeps up what he did in Pittsburgh!
Happ and Saunders could be together now lol. (Jays traded Happ for saunders last year)
Together with Saunders…on the DL?
With that offense, Happ can win 15 games even if he maintains his career 4+ ERA (old school) or 96 ERA+ (new school).
Happy to have Happ back, He’s a good pitcher and was underrated in Toronto. I really hope this isn’t the end of the rotation tweaking though…the rotation stinks of mediocrity without another 1-2 type pitcher
Have you heard of Marcus Stroman? I hear this Sanchez kid’s pretty good, too.
they did say “without another” 1-2 pitcher, not “without any”
and at this rate it doesn’t look like sanchez is going back to starting; that’s a full rotation without him. unless he does, of course
Sanchez won’t be in the rotation, that was mostly clear when they moved Hendriks for Chavez, and now becomes a near certainty. I think they’re looking for stable arms that can give their offense a shot to win every day. Sanchez is too much of a question mark, and has a better track record in the bullpen so far. Most likely he gets another rotation shot in 2017.
It’s now official, the Jays are not signing Price. I hope Happ reinvented himself in Pittsburgh, working with Martin should be good.
You must be kidding me? JA Happ $12M, seriously? Shapiro strikes his first blow at making the non-competitive status of the Blue Jays official.
Happ’s quite good. Not sure what universe you live in.
Just Another Fan
Is he? He really hasn’t been good outside of a couple months in Pittsburgh when he was facing 40-man expanded rosters.
Happ has an ERA of 4.48 since the beginning of 2011 and that number would be approaching 5 if not for his ridiculously good second half last year.
Not sure 12M/yr is a smart investment, but they needed to address the rotation in some way after moving their top pitching prospect and losing 2 of their better pitchers from last year.
big of you to pick the one year he had a 5+ ERA as your starting point. it’s gone down every season since then, four years in a row. at this rate, by 2020 he’ll be pedro martinez
including the hair
I picked that year because its the first year his career went down hill.
he’s throwing 2mph harder now than he did then, you know
Yet he still had a below average ERA and FIP in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and the first four months of 2015. Obviously the real Happ is August and September of last year and that number 5 SP you saw the previous 4.5 years was him tinkering.
The real world. This is a very bad signing. Almost a joke
He’s good if you don’t care about how he pitches.
That’s the going rate, nowadays. Any starting lefty that can climb the mound on his own is going to get that much. Happ is going to do fine here.
I like this. Happ does well when he has a good team behind him. Phillies, 2014 Jays, Pirates. Astros and Mariners not so much. This year he will have outstanding D and a productive lineup behind him, so IMO, good things are going to happen for him. This is now a better team than the one that started 2015.
Disappointed that this appears to be the Jays big rotation move this off season. Jays really weren’t competitive last year until they got a front of the rotation starter and yet seem destined to start the season with 4 4-5 starters
Don’t forget they didn’t have Marcus Stroman until the end of September. Had Stro pitched all year, I doubt they would have gone after Price.
They were one of the better teams in baseball before Price, their W-L record wasn’t great due to bad luck.
You could say luck but really it was losing low scoring games. They couldn’t win if they didn’t score 4+ runs and your not gonna do that every game. Lost the vast majority of 1 run game and games they score 3 or less because of their rotation and pen. Hard to be a serious contender doing that.
Shapiro needs to do more than Happ and Chavez. Nothing but lateral moves. Needs to sign at least a clear second tier FA starter.
The Jays are rolling with one year wonders as the rotation next year.
Estrada, Happ and Dickey in the same rotation can either be brilliant, or a disaster waiting to happen.
12M a year is a lot of Happ, but I guess they think he can replicate his Pittsburgh success.
i think it makes sense for Toronto, even if is it an overpay, They have major decisions to make on extension issues, and signing Happ (maybe a 3-4-5) starter gives them some cost certainty.
Think you’ve got it. Shapiro wanted a short term commitment and depth. The window for Toronto is now so 7 years for an ace may not be wise.
That second half gained him $36 million. What a business to be in right now
Stroman, Estrada, Happ, Dickey and Hutch? Or what?
We need an ace and will like to leave sanchez in the bullpen
Is it April fool’s day? Because this isn’t funny….
yes, it is
Let me ask this question…. As a blue jay fan would you rather have Happ or Francisco Liriano? Liriano is younger and essentially going to make the same as Happ now.
Liriano took a discount to stay in Pittsburgh. He could have topped 50M+
Not a fan. The Jays needed an ace. Their rotation looks like:
Stroman- Probably a 3 right now, but has a higher ceiling.
Dickey- a solid 3
Estrada- a 5th starter/swingman until he had a good year this year positioning him as a 3.
Chavez- a 5th starter
Happ- a 5th starter who had a good month and a half
And its not a cheap rotation. Its nearly $50m annually! They should have allocated that money better.
Rather than giving Happ and Estrada a combined $22m, they should have signed Cueto for the same $22 and taken a chance on a Jacob Turner type for the 5th spot.
in what world is anyone signing cueto for 22 mil?
Good for J.A., I am “Happ”-y for him. I would have loved to see the Bucs bring him back, but not at that price with the other payroll concerns they have. Best of luck in Toronto.
After Boston signed Porcello to a 4yr/80MM, its understandable that Happ would want a little over half that amount per year. It reset the bar for mediocre pitching. Thanks Boston!
This is such a bad signing. dude was good for ten starts because Searage worked his magic and he was pitching to a lot of rookie or AAAA hitters.. ihope the lessons he learned in Pitt stay with him when he’s pitching the AL East launching pads next season.
Bad jays bad
Would be better off squeezing out like 2 million a year more for Gallardo imo.
Assuming the Jays are willing to have a payroll as large as they had at the end of the season, a big chunk comes off with Buehrle gone, Happ would be a savings although I’m not a huge fan. Izturuis is another 4M gone (thank God) so net they are about 10M under season end total payroll on an annual basis. If they want Price back, Rogers has the money. The 10m savings will be eaten up by the Arb eligible players like Donaldson. They have no clear cut Ace. You can’t give that title to Stroman yet. They need a stud or at least a solid number 2/3 behind Stroman and Estrada. I would have preferred Iwakuma or Lackey for two years at even 15m per over this. But at least they have some depth now after trading their young arms last year. Stroman/Estrada/Happ/Dickey/Chavez (scary) with Hutch and Sanchez as depth in the bullpen.
Shapiro still has work to do!!!
The Jays first mistake was letting AA get away. Second was this signing. Chavez for Hendricks wasn’t too bad as long as Chavez doesn’t tire down the stretch as the #5 guy, but Hutch and Sanchez will probably combine for 20 starts along the way and that’s 10 wins out of the 20 at least, as long as Hutch only starts at home
I’m not liking these moves by Shapiro so far.
Jays needed to re-sign or replace Estrada, Buehrle and Price.
Estrada = Estrada, Buehrle = Chavez, Price = Happ.
For a team so close to the World Series, the Jays should be improving not getting worse. While nice pieces, Chavez and Happ don’t seem to be the arms the Jays need to make it over he hump. I hope Chavez was a depth move and the Jays are looking to trade for a premium SP.
I don’t love this signing, but I don’t hate it. The Blue Jays had a VERY clear need coming into the offseason. Get 3 starting pitchers and improve the bullpen. The offense and defense are set if it stays this way.
They signed Estrada and now Happ. Stroman is the ace with Estrada, Dickey, Happ and Chavez 2-5. Is is the greatest rotation? No. Is it even in the bottom half though? Not even close. It’s a solid rotation that will eat some innings and keep the team in the game. Now they can work on bullpen help, or sign Greinke or Price or Cueto or Gallardo or Zimmermann or Kazmir or Fister or etc, etc, etc off the free agent market and move Chavez to the pen and create depth should a starter go down with an injury.
All over the internet people seem to be treating this signing like the Jays got Happ to be their Ace. As soon as you sit back and realize the Jays HAD to sign starting pitching, they signed Happ as a 3/4 type at best (likely a 4/5) and this was market value for a pitcher like him, you can sit back and realize this was a solid move for the club. If they hadn’t dealt a guy like Norris, Happ wouldn’t have been signed. There is no one in the system really ready to take over as a consistent lefty starter for the 2016 or possibly even the 2017 season.
Wow, even terrible pitchers are making $13 mil (Porcello $20 mil). The Jays are hoping to win a lot of 8-7 games, I guess!
Buerhle made $20 million last year. Pretty sure Happ is worth $10 million. Gladly pay that to a relatively consistent pitcher with no history of arm injuries.
He was really good when he came up with the Phils, and I was mad when we sent him to the Astros. In retrospect, he sold quite high.
Really $12mil per year for a #4 or #5 guy? Blue Jays are either desperate or don’t understand the depth of FA pitching this year.
Even with the imminent departure of David Price it appears the Blue Jays rotation won’t be so Happ-less after all.
Sorry but from what I’ve been reading, I don’t agree that Bautista and Edwin won’t re-sign. They’ve already stated that Toronto is where they want to end their careers and unless they don’t compete in 2016, I don’t know why not? Both men don’t seem like the type to go for the big money. Especially with core players like Donaldson and Tulo in the line up and youngsters like Stroman, Sanchez and Osuna around….even if they lock those 2 up they are still capable of competing for another 5 years. Plus Rogers payroll should only increase from here…
I like the move by the Blue Hays but now they need a ace like Jordan Zimmerman or Jonny Cueto
Yasiel Puig should go to St. Louis because St. Louis wants him and he would be a good fit