Mar 25, 2014; Bradenton, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ (48) warms up before the first inning of the spring training exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at McKechnie Field. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

What will Happ-en with J.A. Happ and the Toronto Blue Jays?


There is a very interesting situation unfolding with respect to the Toronto Blue Jays starting pitching. The situation comes in the form of a 6’5” Lefty by the name of J.A. Happ.

In case you have forgot about him, or maybe you have given up on him, he is currently on a rehab assignment that has seen him make two minor league starts. His first start in Dunedin saw him allow two runs in five innings while striking out five in a win over Clearwater. In his second start, this time for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons, he allowed one run over 4.2 innings throwing 90 pitches (63 for strikes).

After the game the Buffalo Bisons tweeted:



According to John Lott of the Globe and Mail, J.A. Happ will make one more rehab start with the Buffalo Bisons, which is good news for Blue Jays management since they already have five starters. Happ was expected to compete for one of the final two spots in the rotation until back issues derailed his chances this spring and landed him on the disabled list. This held the door wide open for Dustin McGowan and Drew Hutchison to claim the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation.

Thus far, the results from McGowan and Hutchison have been mixed. Both starters have had one good start and one bad start. If McGowan was unimpressive against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday and replicated his first start against the NY Yankees, than it would have made this situation much simpler. Move McGowan into the bullpen, send Neil Wagner back to Buffalo, and slot J.A. Happ into McGowan’s spot in the rotation. Unfortunately for J.A. Happ and management, Dustin McGowan turned in a impressive start on Friday night. He held the O’s offence to zero runs on five hits over 6 1/3 innings, while walking one and striking out two batters.

Hutchison looked dominate against the Tampa Bay Rays in his first start, earning the Blue Jays their first win of the season. In his second, against the Yankees, Hutch was unable to keep his pitches down and the veteran hitter of the Yankees made him pay as he took his first loss of the season. Hutch hasn’t looked over matched or intimidated in either start this year and will need a few more starts to accurately gauge what we can expect from him in 2014.

But where does J.A. Happ fit into this picture? Is he a long reliever or a 5th starter? Is he a able to stay healthy? Can he consistently work into and past the 6th or 7th innings?

These are the questions that surround J.A. Happ. For his career, Happ is a .500 pitcher (40-42) who throws a lot of pitches and can’t make past the 5th inning. Even his impressive rehab start on Thursday promoted John Lott to tweet:



If the Blue Jays decide to keep rolling with Hutchison and McGowan in their rotation and wish to keep Happ in Buffalo as their 6th starter, Happ will have to be placed on optional waivers. Happ still has options, but he is three years past his Major League debut. It wouldn’t be a terrible situation if Happ’s $5.2 million contract were to be claimed. There are more viable pitching options in the minors this year than there have been the past two injury riddled seasons. If Happ were to be claimed, then Toronto could still pull him off waivers so as not to lose him.

So Jays fans tell me what you think should happ-en with Happ in the comment section.

What will Happen with Happ

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Tags: Drew Hutchison Dustin McGowan J.A. Happ Toronto Blue Jays

  • JP

    Can’t say yet. Next two starts for Hutch will be important. If they are not good, he goes to Buffalo and Happ takes his place. If Hutch ok, Happ likely goes to pen and that will likely mean an 8 man pen for awhile. That may bot be bad as pen won’t get burnt and we are not utilizing 4 man bench anyway. The other possibility is trade of Happ or other pitcher. It would be difficult to trade Happ’s contract with most teams budgets pretty much set….unless we are taking money back.

    In my view, we should hold on to all the pitchers, all the while trying to make a trade for a young 2b., AA’s top priority should be attempting to make this happen……

    • brad

      8 man pen is the worst…. because while the jays aren’t using their entire bench right now, a 3 man bench cannot be used AT ALL. You need a backup C, IF and OF at all times just in case someone gets hurt…. which means that Lind hits against lefty specialists and is therefore an out every at bat after the 7th(even this year he is still at .167 against lefties)… Sierra also get’s no playing time at all…. and everyone in the pen get’s a little rustier than they should be. The pen is just not being used enough to give 8 people enough action.

      Happ on the other hand will likely 1) be a whiney distraction if he get’s put in the pen just like he was last time and 2) lose his ability to make a spot start or step immediately into the rotation because he won’t be stretched out anymore. He is most valuable to them in AAA and I don’t see anyone taking his contract on waivers or him thinking he can make that much somewhere else and refusing a AAA assignment.

      A trade would be an interesting idea(though I agree taking a big piece of contract is probably a must) but shedding Happ and signing a guy like Stephen Drew on a 1 year deal would accomplish the same thing

      • JP

        Can’t understand why people want Drew…….basically a slightly better than average player at best who wants waaaay above average dollars.

        In theory a 4 man bench is a better option than a 3 man but Gibbons is not using it, so a TEMPORARY 8 man pen may be best while a possible trade is being worked out. Trades cannot be made simply because one wants to…there are many variables, the most important one being finding a suitable dance partner. I am not a Happ fan but also don’t wish to waste a potential asset. I think expecting him to accept a AAA option is dreaming in technicolour. It would be the best option for Jays but it’s not happening imo.

        • brad

          Thinking someone will trade a young and productive 2b for Happ is also pretty technicolour IMO. If I’m a GM I would maybe give up a middling prospect and a throw in for Happ/Redmond/Rogers at half happ’s salary…. which fundamentally means the Jays paying 3 million for a middling prospect… Unless the jays trade prospects of their own in which case Happ is a throw in. Hutchison would probably yield a little more just because of his age and potential but by the definition of this scenario(hutch being better than Happ) that would mean weakening an area that is already the Jays’ biggest area of need.

          The two best possible outcomes would be 1)Happ clearing waivers and accepting a minor league assignment and 2)Happ being claimed on waivers and the jays shedding his entire salary. If he isn’t claimed on waivers, it’s a pretty strong sign that there isn’t a lot of demand for the guy and he may take that as a hint that he should accept a minor league assignment. I would say the odds of him being claimed are about 50/50 and odds of him accepting a minor league assignment if he clears waivers are about 60/40…. which means about an 80% chance of something better than the above trade scenario happening should they try and send him to Buffalo. Toronto is a pretty good place to be a sixth starter if history is any kind of indication.

          As far as Drew goes, I don’t really want him at all. I think the Jays’ biggest area of need is still at the top of the rotation and that they should stand pat at 2b and save for that. If you want to talk about adding at second base however, signing him to his waaaay above average one year contract will likely yield FAR superior production to anyone you can get for Happ at about the same price.

          • JP

            Of course, we can’t get a 2b for Happ but for a package involving a reliever such as Santos. I agree with ur best option for Happ but do not think it will happen. Maybe after tonight, there will be one possibility either off or on the table.

            I think that the jays would probably like to keep the depth than just shed the salary. Happ is more suited to the NL….wonder if the Snakes, with their struggling pitching so far might be interested.

          • RyanMueller

            There is always a job out there for a tall Lefty…always. What I struggle with is the level of discontent that Jays fans have for Happ and his contract. Fans were begging AA to sign Santana, Jimenez, Garza all guys that are middle of the rotation guys. They wanted AA to throw anywhere between 12-18 million/yr at these guys. Happ isn’t as good as those guys but he also won’t cost you as much and could potentially give you what we need out of a 5th starter. Happ has been given a bad Rapp…you see what I did there?

          • brad

            The reason for the discontent with Happ is that at his contract he doesn’t represent an upgrade over other back end starters. That is BACK END too…. not mid rotation. Jiminez and Santana offered significant upgrades as high up the rotation as the #3 spot. if Happ had any hope as an upgrade in the 3 spot no one would dislike him. As it stands, Happ has never pitched more than 166 innings or made more than 30 starts. He has not posted a WAR over 1.0 since 2009(!). In fact, since that 09 season he has only been worth a half win above replacement (B/R). Santana has been worth 8 WAR in that time, ubaldo Jiminez has been worth 10 and Garza has been worth 7.5. It wasn’t about who was better value wise(because Happ probably is in a vacuum) but on a team with rotation problems that is hoping to contend this season, Happ is worth no more than their 30 other #5 starters(none of whom make $6 million) and a guy who represents a middle of the rotation, 200 inning upgrade is worth more than market value(which is a lot)….. whether or not one or all of Santana, jiminez and garza are capable of being that guy is a subject that has been beaten to death but that’s the reasoning.

          • RyanMueller

            your reasoning is sound. I can’t really argue against that. My main issue with Happ is his inability to pitch deep into games which is one reason he has never pitched more than 166 innings. Would you feel the same about Happ if he were to accept a long relief role with the Jays?

          • brad

            I think that he could be a reasonable long reliever but again, is it an upgrade over anyone they have? I think the Jays can go 9 pen pitchers deep before Happ. I like him as a fifth starter or a long man but on a team with a ton of 5th starters and swingmen his 6 mil is a lot….. especially since they seem to be against spending more money

      • RyanMueller

        I agree with your stance on Sierra, he needs more AB’s to be useful and I am sure that as the season goes on he will.
        I would stay away from Drew….his agent for one thing makes me want to stay away and as already stated by the other comments, he is average.
        I don’t know how much of a whiney distraction Happ would be, but your are right his value at the moment is in Buffalo.

    • RyanMueller

      Like everything this time of year…it is too early. Unfortunately, there is a decision that will need to be made in the next week. I think that AA will do everything in his power to hold onto all three. IMO the Happ trade has been his worse trade to date, so I think that he really want to get some value out of Happ.
      The young 2B that you are hoping for is a pipe dream, at least that is my opinion….I would like to see Kevin Nolan get a shot some time this year.

  • brad

    I say place Happ on waivers and option him to Buffalo allowing him the choice to be granted his release….. and the Jays the opportunity to save 6 mil. They are definitely going to need a sixth starter at some point but they are overflowing with mediocre back end arms. He has not shown anything good enough to supplant Hutch or McGowan(who gets at least a partial pass for his first start because he was tipping pitches). He’d be a good guy to have as depth but doesn’t deserve a rotation spot right now…. if he chooses to stay, great. If not, whatever.

  • Eric

    Trade happ

    • JP

      trading him would be fine….but it’s not that easy. sometimes it takes time. with a decision necessary soon, I think that the most likely scenario is that he becomes part of an 8 man pen.until a possible deal can be worked out or another direction becomes more obvious.,

  • Andrew van Laar

    When I dream at night, I fantasizes opening my computer, going to Jays Journal and seeing in big bold font “Happ Trade Happ-ened”. This, this is my wildest fantasty.

    • Kyle Franzoni

      We are so using that title…

      • Andrew van Laar

        Then I can say that you, Kyle Franzoni, will fulfill my wildest fantasies.