Blue Jays: Could this be the final audition for J.A. Happ?
Toronto Blue Jays hurler J.A. Happ toes the rubber tonight versus the Houston Astros which could conceivably be his final audition before the Jays deal him to a contender for the postseason push.
J.A. Happ is arguably the most appealing trade piece the Blue Jays possess as the fire sale looms. The 35-year old will take his 3.56 earned run average and his elevated 10.1 SO/9 rate into Houston to face the 52-27 Astros.
There will undoubtedly be a plethora of scouts on hand to see how the southpaw fares against the reigning World Series champions. Happ is on the cusp of free agency and will likely garner a raise over his $13 million he is currently owning for the 2018 campaign.
The Mariners and Yankees are a few of the teams to have been rumoured to have interest in the Jays lefty who should garner a nice return for Ross Atkins and company. Happ has surrendered two runs or less in 9 of his 15 starts this season including a one run, 10 strikeout performance versus the Boston Red Sox.
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Happ has limited left-handed batters to a minuscule .167 average this season while righties are only hitting a touch higher at .217. Opposing hitters are only hitting .194 versus Happ when there are runners in scoring position and he sports a 1.7 WAR thus far in 2018.
In a season where the smart money was on Josh Donaldson to be the Jays most enticing trade chip, the veteran hurler overtook the oft-injured third baseman with his consistent and strong play on the bump. Teams posturing for the playoffs would be well advised to acquire Happ before the deadline and guarantee a few extra starts from the former third-round pick.
Last season the Jays managed to steal Teoscar Hernandez at the trade deadline from the Astros in exchange for pending free agent Francisco Liriano. Hernandez was expendable due to the crowded outfield in Houston and the Jays capitalized. The Jays could make multiple deals in the coming month after a disappointing season and a roster chalked full of trade pieces.
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It will be interesting to see what the hurler will lure back in prospects as he is definitely being moved and probably sooner than later. This will mark Happ’s 123rd career start as a Blue Jay and quite possibly his last one especially if he can handcuff the defending World Champions tonight.