Despite all the rumors pushing him out the door, The New York Yankees don’t have to trade J.A. Happ. He can provide valuable starting pitching depth.
When the New York Yankees signed Gerrit Cole to a record-breaking nine-year, $324 million deal in December, many believed that meant the end for J.A. Happ’s time in Pinstripes. This doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.
Happ 37, had a rough 2019 campaign as he posted a 4.91 ERA in 30 starts and one relief appearance. Opposing hitters teed off against the veteran left-hander as they hit to a high .258 average.
While the 2019 regular season wasn’t pretty, Happ’s postseason wasn’t nearly as bad. He appeared in three playoff games out of the bullpen for the Yankees pitching to a 2.45 ERA in 3.2 innings of work.
Happ also had a successful first half-season in Pinstripes back in 2018. The southpaw posted an outstanding 2.69 ERA, and 7-0 record in 11 starts to help the Yankees to a 100 win season and earning an eventual contract extension.
The extension Happ signed after the 2018 season is worth $34 million over two-years with a third-year vesting option, meaning he will only become a free agent after the season if he fails to reach the performance incentive threshold based on innings pitched or games started.
With a heavy contract and the Yankees having other options for the fifth starter spot trading Happ is a viable option, but by no means does Brian Cashman have to trade him. In fact, Happ could provide the Yankees with a veteran presence in the rotation that they will lack with CC Sabathia now retired.
While Cole has plenty of experience, he’s still 29 and new to the roster. Happ could be a big help in showing him the ropes in New York while providing the Yankees with another reliable innings-eater given the injury history with James Paxton, Jordan Montgomery, Luis Severino, and Masahrio Tanaka
Thus, the Yankees should only trade Happ if they feel completely confident those three will stay healthy for the entire 2020 season.