The Yankees continue to hold Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ in high regard and have him near the top of their list of “realistic” trade targets as the deadline approaches, tweets Fancred’s Jon Heyman. (Notably, Heyman adds that the Yankees don’t consider either Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard to fall into that “realistic” category.) However, to this point, the Yankees believe the asking price on Happ to be too high for talks to become serious. The Mariners and Cubs have also been linked to Happ in recent weeks, and it seems it’s merely a matter of time until the southpaw finds himself in a new jersey. Though he was hit hard in his past two starts, Happ is averaging nearly 10 strikeouts per nine innings pitched against 2.9 BB/9 with a 4.44 ERA. Metrics like FIP (3.97), xFIP (3.79) and SIERA (3.64) all feel he’s been substantially better than his ERA would indicate.
Some more trade talk from around MLB…
- The Giants might not be done making moves to shed salary, reports Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. The team seemingly dubbed Austin Jackson and Cory Gearrin expendable and shed their remaining salary in Sunday’s trade with the Rangers, and Schulman wonders if the Giants would also take a similar course with either Derek Holland or Sam Dyson. Holland has been solid dating back to early May, but he’s somewhat redundant with Ty Blach also on the roster (though certainly the depth is valuable). San Francisco could save another $1.4MM, Schulman adds, if Dyson is moved. It should be emphasized that the Giants’ goal certainly isn’t to shed payroll at all costs; rather, the aim would seem to be shedding expendable pieces who could be replaced by more affordable internal options, thus creating further distance from the $197MM luxury tax barrier. Schulman also notes that while finding a taker for Hunter Pence would obviously create ample breathing room in that regard, some within the organization, including manager Bruce Bochy, would hate to see Pence and his leadership depart.
- The Red Sox have been scouting Zach Britton since he was activated from the disabled list, tweets Heyman. The Sox and Orioles aren’t frequent trade partners but did line up a couple of years back in the Andrew Miller/Eduardo Rodriguez swap, and Boston president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has already pulled off one intra-division swap in 2018, acquiring Steve Pearce from the Blue Jays. Britton hasn’t looked like himself since returning from surgery to repair his Achilles tendon, as his K/BB numbers and ground-ball rates have all been well south of his usual levels. Britton’s velocity has ticked upward in his past two outings, though he’s still falling behind far too many hitters and is owed more than $5MM through season’s end. That last bit may be of particular importance to the Red Sox, who after acquiring Pearce are just narrowly under the next level of luxury tax penalization. If they exceed the luxury tax by more than $40MM, the Red Sox would see their top pick in next year’s draft pushed back 10 slots.
- Teams looking for rotation help on the trade market will have a close eye on the upcoming Mariners/Angels series, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. If Halos already trail the Astros by 14 games in the AL West and trail Seattle by 11 games in the AL Wild Card race. If the Mariners can widen that gap further, the Angels may have little choice but to turn an eye toward 2019, which would likely result in Garrett Richards being made available in trades. Sherman notes that Angels GM Billy Eppler told him just last week that his focus remained on reaching the postseason, but Sherman also writes that “those who know Eppler believe he will be pragmatic” if things don’t change quickly. The Yankees, Brewers, Braves, Cubs, Phillies and Mariners are among the teams looking for rotation upgrades, per Sherman.