One of the most coveted assets available at this year’s trade deadline, left-handed starting pitcher J.A. Happ is an enigmatic trade chip in the Blue Jays system. As many sources have reported, several contenders have already expressed interest in the reliable southpaw.
It’s no secret – J.A. Happ has been great this year. Pitching to a solid ERA of 3.62 and averaging seven strikeouts per start, he’s easily the most valuable trade chip that the Blue Jays front office has at their disposal this trade deadline. In addition to his superb earned run average, he’s also walked just 27 and has a stellar record of 10-3.
With excellent peripheral statistics, J.A. Happ’s tall stature and advantageous handedness make him especially attractive to teams just on the brink of contention. Here’s a rundown of some of the recent trade rumours surrounding the 35-year-old:
Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported on Twitter that both the Mariners and the Yankees are interested in Happ’s services. While he doesn’t give an exact level of interest, it’s not difficult to imagine that both teams would be in the hunt for Happ in July.
Morosi is one of the most reputable voices in baseball, so a report from him is not guaranteed to be true, but can be relied upon for analysis and speculation.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post published a lengthy analysis of what the Yankees could possibly give up in a trade for the big lefty. He says that from his point of view, Happ is “going to be traded in the next five weeks”.
From a New Yorker’s standpoint, Sherman proposes pitchers Chance Adams (New York’s fourth-ranked prospect), Dillon Tate (ninth-ranked prospect) and Erik Swanson (not ranked in the top 30) as potential centrepieces of a trade. According to Sherman, the Yankees are in the midst of a 40-man roster crunch, and general manager Brian Cashman is no stranger to using trades to address roster issues.
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The starting pitchers, in particular, could be especially valuable to the Blue Jays as they look to improve their pitching depth in the upper minors. Despite their healthy young talent up the middle of the field, their prospect capital on the mound is severely lacking.
In this article, which can be found here, Sherman takes a look at past rental pitchers and what they fetched in deadline deals. He uses Rich Hill and Scott Kazmir, who went from the Oakland Athletics to the Dodgers and Astros respectively, as comparables. Both of them are left-handed and were both in the final year of their contracts.
As mentioned above, Brian Cashman is a particularly crafty baseball executive with a knack for putting together clever deals. Still, he’s prepared to hold certain assets.
According to Mike Rosenstein of nj.com, Cashman would prefer not to trade Clint Frazier for a starter and has no interest in trading young middle infielder Gleyber Torres. Furthermore, Mark Suleymanov of Sporting News has noted that infielder Tyler Wade seems likely to be dangled as a trade chip, though he would not be particularly useful to the Jays at this time.
The Current Status
As of today, there is no trade imminent for Happ. Reports continue to be thrown about and speculation continues to run amok, but there’s nothing set in stone just yet.
Still, this story will be an interesting one to follow as the Jays prepare for what could be the busiest trade deadline since the mystical 2015 deadline.