Jan. 22: Happ’s deal has been formally announced by the Twins. Their 40-man roster is now up to 37 players.
Jan. 20, 4:22pm: Happ will earn $8MM, Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweets.
Minnesota will be the seventh different organization for Happ, who spent time with the Phillies, Astros, Blue Jays, Mariners, Pirates and Yankees from 2007-20. The well-traveled 38-year-old has put together a solid career in the majors, where he owns a 3.98 ERA/4.21 SIERA and a 20.9 percent strikeout rate against an 8.4 percent walk rate through 1,741 1/3 innings.
For the most part, Happ’s numbers last year as a Yankee aligned with his career totals. He put up 49 1/3 frames of 3.47 ERA ball with a 21.4 percent strikeout rate and a 7.7 percent walk rate, also averaging about 91 mph on his fastball. He was also somewhat of a Statcast favorite, as he ranked better than average in several of its categories and recorded a .270 expected weighted on-base average against that outdid the .280 wOBA hitters logged when facing him. However, the 4.53 SIERA that Happ notched does count among the worst of his career.
Based on what he has done to this point, Happ should be a respectable back-end starter for the Twins, who have seen 2020 rotation members Jake Odorizzi and Rich Hill reach free agency since the offseason opened. The back-to-back AL Central champions now have Happ set to slot in behind Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios and Michael Pineda in their starting staff.
From a payroll vantage point, Happ puts Minnesota just north of $100MM on the books in 2021. That’s still about $30MM shy of where they would’ve been in 2020, prior to the league-wide prorating of salaries, so there’s still room for the Twins to add. The organization’s priority has been squarely focused on Nelson Cruz for much of the winter, though the 40-year-old slugger has been hoping for a two-year deal and is waiting until there’s definitive word on the universal DH before making any decisions.
The Twins could still make further moves to bolster the starting staff between now and Opening Day, but at the moment, Randy Dobnak looks like the front-runner to serve as their No. 5 starter. Lefty Devin Smeltzer is also on hand as a fifth-starter candidate, and prospects Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic aren’t far behind in the upper minors.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.