The trade deadline is creeping up and as that happens, there will be a slew of names and teams being thrown out in connection with one another. Most of this, at least to start, will be pure speculation based on perceived team needs versus who is available on the trade market. However, as we get closer and closer...there will be more concrete reporting on teams expressing real and specific interest in players.
That appears to be the case today as both the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners are looking to upgrade their rotation. While there are several interesting names on the pitching trade market, one name that has been popping up more and more has been the Blue Jays’ J.A. Happ and the Yankees and Mariners are right in the middle of that interest.
#Yankees and #Mariners both interested in #BlueJays LHP J.A. Happ, source said, and here is one reason why: The AL rival #RedSox have an @MLB-best .813 OPS against RHP but only .672 against LHP. @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) June 18, 2018
The Blue Jays have not been really bad this year per se, but they may be forced to be sellers at the deadline due to the division they play in. The Red Sox and Yankees are among the best teams in the entire league and they happen to also occupy the AL East which is problematic for a Toronto team that is five games below .500. The Blue Jays have some big time, top end talent coming to help from the minors in the forms of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, but they seem to be more a part of the future rather than saviors of the 2018 season.
Happ is sort of a perfect piece to try and trade at the deadline as his contract is up at the end of the season and he will be highly desirable as a rental due to being a lefty that has been productive on the mound in a tough division. Happ has posted a 3.48 ERA and 3.41 FIP in 2018 and has been a very consistent 3-WAR pitcher over the last few seasons. Toronto will have to weigh whether it is more worth it to try and hold on to him via a qualifying offer or not, but the prevailing wisdom seems to be that the Jays will trade him.
As for the Yankees and Mariners, their interest is driven by a number of factors. Both have real question marks in their rotations (to varying degrees) and both are in the middle of intense division battles with tough rivals. The Mariners are trying to keep pace with the red-hot Houston Astros and the Yankees are in a back and forth war at the top of the AL East with the Red Sox. Morosi mentions the Red Sox in particular as a driver of this interest given the Red Sox’s relative struggles against left-handed pitching and the fact that Happ is arguably the most valuable/acquirable lefty on the trade market.