The Yankees got their starter by trading Brandon Drury and Billy McKinney for Blue Jays’ All-Star J.A. Happ. How did they make out in the deal? Is Happ the right choice?
Raise your hand if you expected the Yankees to trade for a starter. (Crickets.) Yes, the Bombers were all but guaranteed to trade for a starting pitcher, even after acquiring reliever Zach Britton. On Thursday, July 26, they made their next move by trading for the veteran left-hander Happ.
As recently as early June, Happ had been one of the biggest/biggest names in a weak market for starting pitchers. But Happ went through a rough patch that significantly damaged his trade value, both to the Jays and potential buyers.
Just look at Happ’s numbers. According to ESPN, the pitcher’s earned run average for March and April was 3.86 and 3.45, respectively. Those are solid numbers. May put a dent in those numbers, though, as Happ put up a 4.25 ERA. Still, he looked like an impactful starter.
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Several bad starts in June really had buyers questioning if a thirty-five year-old pitcher was worth the sacrifice of young prospects. Happ struggled early in July but he might be rounding back into form.
Since a particularly ugly outing against, ironically, the Yankees, Happ has bounced back. Sure, Boston roughed him up for five unearned runs on July 12th. But the veteran recently turned in a quality start against the Orioles, as he tossed five innings and gave up just one run.
I know, I know it’s the Orioles, but trading for Happ was the right move for the Yankees. A blockbuster for Jacob deGrom wasn’t happening. Even if it did, that trade would have destroyed the farm system’s depth.
Thinking of alternatives beyond a deGrom trade, it’s hard to really find any that sat well with fans. The Red Sox swooped in and nabbed former Yankee Nathan Eovaldi from Tampa Bay, taking him off the board.
Most importantly, the Yankees gave up pocket change for Happ. That might be an exaggeration, but getting Happ only cost them Drury and McKinney. Drury lost his spot with the emergence of Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andújar. McKinney has talent but the team already has a crowded outfield that won’t have a vacancy anytime soon.
The Yankees won this trade, even if Happ doesn’t perform well in his likely limited time with the team. With the trades to get Britton and Happ, the Yankees are showing that they mean business.