As we sit here patiently waiting to hear any Gerrit Cole news, it’s been reported that the Yankees are actively seeking to make a J.A. Happ trade. This isn’t surprising since Happ pitched like J.A. Flop last season and has a guaranteed one-year and $17M left on his contract.
If and when the Yankees do sign Cole to a break-the-bank contract, they’re going to want to unload some money and Happ is a prime candidate to be moved.
The Yankees acquired the pending free agent left-hander at the 2018 trade deadline in exchange for veteran infielder Brandon Drury and prospect Billy McKinney. It looked like a good move at the time, especially with the success Happ had against the Boston Red Sox.
Happ made 11 starts after the trade, going 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA and a 1.052 WHIP. The Yankees were confident he would handle Boston in any playoff situation. Boy, was everyone wrong.
His postseason appearance against Boston in Game 1 of the ALDS lasted all of two innings, plus two batters in the 3rd inning. He was charged with five earned, tagged with the loss and put the Yankees in an immediate hole in the series. Rumor has it that the home run he allowed to J.D. Martinez is still orbiting the Earth.
But, the Yankees needed rotation help in 2019, and signed Happ to a two-year, $34M deal that can vest into a third year if the 37-year old throws 165 innings or makes 27 starts in 2020 (this past season he tossed 161.1 innings and made 30 starts).
His 2019 numbers were, at best, pedestrian. He pitched to a 5.22 FIP, a 1.2 WAR, and a 90 ERA+. Things got no better in the ALCS when he came out of the pen to surrender a Game 2 11th inning walkoff home run to Carlos Correa.
Happ-y to see you go
The Yankees are probably going to have to send cash along with any deal they make in order to help pay for that probable third year. The lesser the return from a trading partner, the less the amount of dollars that would have to travel back to said team with Happ.
Hopefully, come this Spring Training, Cole will be in pinstripes and Happ will be anywhere else.