DECEMBER 10: The Blue Jays have explored the possibility of a reunion with Happ, Andy Martino of SNY.tv reports (Twitter links). The Brewers are said to be among the National League clubs with some level of interest.
DECEMBER 9: Twelve months ago, the Yankees made veteran left-hander J.A. Happ one of their key offseason signings. After a solid 2018 divided between the Blue Jays and Yankees, New York re-upped Happ to a two-year, $34MM contract. Now, the club is “actively” seeking a taker on the trade market for the 37-year-old Happ, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports.
The fact that the Yankees want to get out of the Happ deal isn’t particularly surprising, considering he’s slated to count $17MM against the luxury tax next season. If the Yankees succeed in signing right-hander Gerrit Cole, the No. 1 free agent on the board and someone who has a shot at a $300MM-plus contract, moving some portion of Happ’s money could help them avoid the highest level of the luxury tax ($248MM). As things stand, it seems probable they’ll blow past the first level of $208MM and likely surpass the second penalty of $228MM, Sherman notes.
In moving Happ, the Yankees would obviously be selling low. While Happ has long been a quality starter in the majors, things didn’t go well last season. Even though Happ did close on a good note during the final month of the regular campaign, he still ended the year with a subpar 4.91 ERA/5.22 FIP and 7.81 K/9 against 2.73 BB/9 over 161 1/3 innings. Going forward, Happ’s contract includes a $17MM vesting option for 2021 if he totals 165 innings or 27 starts next year. With those factors in mind, the Yankees don’t figure to have an easy time finding someone to take Happ off their hands.