Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Not only should the Yankees trade for Toronto starter J.A. Happ, but they should be aggressive in doing it as soon as possible.
With the divisional race likely to be tight all season, the Yanks must do everything they can to avoid a one-and-done wild card game. Every week matters. As such, they cannot afford to tread water while waiting for Masahiro Tanaka and his two sore hamstrings to heal.
Happ, 35, does not have no-trade protection, and would likely embrace the challenge of pitching in a New York pennant race anyway.
Though his excellent season has brought recent attention -- Happ has a 3.71 ERA and trails only Corey Kluber and Luis Severino in wins (8), while pitching for a losing team -- he has been known in baseball circles for a decade as a gutsy, aggressive pitcher who does more with his modest repertoire than many with greater gifts.
"He doesn't have a real out pitch, and he's one of the better pitchers in the league right now," says one evaluator.
The veteran lefty does this by pounding the strike zone, locating his pitches, and employing a cerebral approach.
Earlier in the season, as the Yanks' need for a starter became clear, most speculation revolved around Detroit's Michael Fulmer and Texas' Cole Hamels. But Fulmer is 2-5 with a 4.40 ERA, and will still cost a trove of top prospects, because he is under team control until 2023.
Hamels remains a more realistic option than Fulmer, because he likely won't cost even one top prospect. But he will cost a portion of his $23.5 million salary. Under the Hal Steinbrenner regime, the Yanks prioritize budget -- at least more than they once did -- and are intent on staying under the luxury tax threshold.
Happ, making $13 million in the final season of a three-year, $36 million contract, offers comparable performance to Hamels at a far more reasonable price. Like Hamels, he broke in with the Charlie Manuel-era Phillies, a team that sold out the ballpark every night and reached the World Series in 2009, Happ's rookie year.
The Blue Jays are a not-terrible 30-36, but sit 11.5 games back of the wild card. The American League is loaded, and this does not appear to be Toronto's year. The team will have other suitors for Happ, but it is incumbent upon the Yankees to be aggressive, and soon. With Tanaka and Jordan Montgomery out, the need for rotation help is urgent.