A return to the Toronto Blue Jays is happ-ening as the Blue Jays have exercised their 2015 team option on starter J.A. Happ on Friday night. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, who somehow had his finger on the pulse of the Blue Jays front office from Miami Beach, FL, tweeted the news late last night.
At $6.7 million for the 2015 season, Happ represents a relative bargain on today’s pitching market, even if only for a back of the rotation starter, making the pick-up of his 1-year option a foregone conclusion. FanGraphs had him worth $7.3 million in 2014, showing that the Blue Jays had his value pegged nearly exactly when they negotiated his extension prior to the 2013 season.
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At 31-years-old, Happ enjoyed his best season in a Blue Jays uniform, posting an 11-11 record, a 4.22 ERA, a 4.26 FIP, a 7.6 K/9 ratio, and a career-low 2.9 BB/9. His 158 innings pitched were his highest since 2006 with the Philadelphia Phillies. However, his 1.3 wins above replacement (FanGraphs) were just a tick above his 2013 total of 1.2 wins.
The pick-up of Happ’s option also gives the Blue Jays a little bit of flexibility in terms of winter pursuits. Currently, the starting rotation would appear to stay with R.A. Dickey, Marcus Stroman, Mark Buehrle, Drew Hutchison, and J.A. Happ holding down the starting five, with rookie Aaron Sanchez also vying for a spot when camp opens up this spring. However, there have been whispers that the Blue Jays will try to move a starter this winter in order to clear salary, with Dickey and Buehrle both garnering some mention already. Picking up Happ’s option gives the team a low-cost veteran alternative to Buehrle and Dickey to either move or hold down a rotation spot should either the two get traded.
The Blue Jays still have more options to make decisions on in the coming days. Adam Lind and Josh Thole both seem to be likely pick-ups, while the Blue Jays could decline Justin Smoak, Brandon Morrow, Dustin McGowan, and Sergio Santos.