The Yankees have agreed in principle with J.A. Happ on a deal that is for two years with an option for a third year. Happ’s desire for a third year on his deal was met with a compromise with the incentive based option so both parties, at least for the moment, seem like they are good to go on a deal.
Source: Yankees and J.A. Happ have agreed to the structure on a contract that would be two years plus an option for a third year based on innings pitched/starts. Deal still being finalized, plus physical.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) December 13, 2018
With this deal, Happ returns to the club with which he thrived down the stretch in 2018 after being dealt by the Blue Jays prior to the trade deadline. Happ, who turned 36 in October, was an All-Star in 2018, though that was somewhat by default because the Blue Jays weren’t very good. Though his numbers in Toronto were just alright — a 4.18 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 130 strikeouts, and 35 walks in 20 starts (114 innings) — he thrived after being dealt to New York, throwing for a 2.69 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 63 strikeouts, and 16 walks over 11 starts (63.2 innings). For what it’s worth, he did struggle in his lone postseason start, allowing five runs on four hits and a walk over two innings in Game 1 of the ALDS.
Despite his relatively advanced age, the 6-foot-5, 205-pound lefty seems like a decent bet to hold up well for at least two or three more years. He has exceptional command, has somehow found a way to become a strikeout pitcher in his mid-30s (he posted a 9.78 strikeouts per nine in 2018, his highest-ever over a full season), and hasn’t posted an ERA of 4.00 or above since 2014 — pretty impressive for a guy who’s spent the majority of this decade pitching in the AL East.
Happ will rejoin Luis Severino, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and CC Sabathia in the Yankees’ rotation, with guys like Jordan Montgomery, Domingo German, and Jonathan Loaisiga perhaps set to make spot contributions in order to limit innings and keep everyone fresh.