The Yankees roughed up Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ on Saturday, but that hasn’t killed New York’s interest in the soon-to-be free-agent lefty. The two teams “have continued conversations” regarding Happ and are “haggling over the price tag,” Buster Olney of ESPN writes. Olney goes on to suggest the Yankees should wait until closer to the July 31 non-waiver deadline to see if better starters than Happ will hit the trade block. As things stand, Happ may end up as the best starter on the move this summer, despite a 4.44 ERA in 105 1/3 innings. However, Happ comes with a strong recent track record and has posted appealing strikeout and walk numbers in 2018 (9.83 K/9, 2.91 BB/9).
Here’s the latest on a pair of other AL teams…
- The Royals have demoted right-hander Jason Hammel to the bullpen for the time being, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com was among those to tweet. Hammel had been slated to make his next start Wednesday, but Burch Smith will take his place. With the Royals in the midst of a rebuild and Hammel in the final guaranteed year of his contract, he could have emerged as a summer trade chip with a good showing in the season’s first few months. Instead, the once-competent Hammel has begun his age-35 season with a 6.16 ERA and his lowest K/9 (5.8) since 2011 over 102 1/3 innings. It’s the second disappointing campaign in a row for Hammel, who has combined for a 5.60 ERA across 280 2/3 frames since KC added him on a two-year, $16MM guarantee entering 2017. Hammel, to his credit, is taking his new role in stride, as he told Rustin Dodd of The Athletic (subscription required) and other reporters: “It’s a little slice of humble pie. But sometimes it’s necessary to reshape, reinvent, right the ship. I’ll go down and help out.”
- One of Hammel’s Royals teammates, infielder Cheslor Cuthbert, has been out for nearly two months with a lower back strain, and his return isn’t imminent. Cuthbert suffered a setback during his rehab assignment with Triple-A Omaha, per Flanagan, who adds that the player “likely will be pulled off his rehab while they determine the next medical step.” That’s a discouraging development for both Cuthbert and Kansas City, the latter of which is in position to evaluate its young players. At 25, Cuthbert’s part of that group, though his production has been rather poor dating back to last season (.215/.278/.313 in 270 plate trips).
- The Rays have placed reliever Chaz Roe on the 10-day disabled list with a torn left meniscus, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Roe will undergo arthroscopic surgery Friday and should miss four to six weeks, Topkin adds on Twitter. Roe has been a key part of the Rays’ bullpen this season with a team-leading 41 appearances, during which he has posted a 3.60 ERA, 9.77 K/9, 3.34 BB/9 and a 51.2 percent groundball rate in 35 innings.