The Yankees have made J.A. Happ available via trade, partly in an effort to clear payroll with the potential that a massive deal for free agent Gerrit Cole will soon be added to the books, reports SNY's Andy Martino.
With Happ available, Martino notes that "plenty of National League teams," including the Brewers, would have interest in trading for him. Martino also lists the Blue Jays as a potential suitor.
Happ is owed $17 million for the 2020 season, and his $17 million option for the 2021 season will vest if he throws 165 innings and/or starts 27 games this coming season.
On Monday, Stephen Strasburg inked the most lucrative contract ever for a pitcher, returning to the Nationals for $245 million over seven years. That deal could vault Cole above $300 million and could mean he gets eight or even nine years.
If the Yanks land Cole, whom they have made their main priority, Happ will be rotation excess. And the presence of his deal on the books along with what will be a record pact for Cole would make it all but certain that New York would exceed the $208 million luxury tax threshold.
When you combine the expected salaries for the Yankees' arbitration-eligible players, you get $33.8 million. Add that to the $154.6 million the Yanks already have committed to payroll for 2020 and you get $188.4 million.
As noted above, in addition to the payroll ramifications, the Yanks landing Cole would also mean Happ is the likely odd man out in the starting rotation.
In a scenario where Cole is in tow, he would anchor a rotation that should also include Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and -- when his expected suspension for violating the league's domestic violence policy ends -- Domingo German.
The Yanks also have Deivi Garcia, Jonathan Loaisiga, and Jordan Montgomery among their rotation options.
So while it might not be easy to find a taker for Happ, it makes all the sense in the world for the Yankees to try to unload him. The 37-year-old Happ had a 4.91 ERA (5.22 FIP) and 1.29 WHIP in 161.1 IP in 2019.