Everybody knew that they needed another starting pitcher, the Yankees knew that they needed another starting pitcher so what does GM Brian Cashman go and do? Of course, he goes and deals for a starting pitcher! News broke out early Thursday that the New York Yankees had agreed a trade in principle with the Toronto Blue Jays for left handed pitcher J.A. Happ, dealing Brandon Drury and Billy McKinney in the process.
It was a trade that may not fit into the category of “blockbuster” but it’s certainly what the Bronx Bombers needed, and they needed it as quickly as possible. Cashman has been quoted in the media as questioning some of the star power of the pitchers available at the trade deadline with the headliners likely being Michael Fulmer, Cole Hamels and J.A. Happ, with the Yankees GM acquiring the latter of the trio with minimal damage done.
But what will Happ bring to the Yankees? Well, he’s no spring chicken so the fact that he’s essentially a rental for the second half of the season is a bonus. There’s no financial pressure on this deal because his $13 million won’t affect the Yankees luxury tax threshold going into next season so if he does well they can resign him, if he doesn’t do so well then no bother, they can just let him go into free agency. His ERA may be at 4.18 and there have been a lot of fans pointing this out as a negative -- which it kind of is -- but let’s take a look at his previous ERA numbers.
This is the highest his ERA has been since the first half of the 2015 season when he only made 20 starts for the Mariners (4.64), and the numbers between 2015 and 2018 read: second half of 2015 (1.85), 2016 (3.18), and 2017 (3.53). For someone who has been said to be a “nothing pitcher” those are pretty solid numbers, and when you compare that to someone like Masahiro Tanaka who had a 4.74 ERA last season and 3.51 in 2015, at least statistically this can improve the Yankees.
It also helps that by losing Drury and McKinney, the Yanks don’t have to move a piece around for one pitcher, like what was rumoured with a potential deal for one of Jacob DeGrom or Noah Syndergaard, but they’ve managed to pick up a good starter in Happ for relatively nothing and another good bullpen pitcher in Zach Britton for even less. It helps the Yankees restructure their rotation and under the guidance of famous pitching coach Larry Rothschild, the Yanks suddenly look a bit more dangerous.
Luis Cessa and Domingo German did reasonable jobs on the mound in the absence of Jordan Montgomery but at the end of the day they aren’t starters and they aren’t what the Yankees needed. What they needed was a guy who knows how to pitch well, knows what it takes to get wins and was available at a reasonable price. They did that with J.A Happ and while it may not be a star studded trade deadline like we had with Justin Verlander, Yu Darvish and Sonny Gray moving, it may just be a move that can spring the Yankees back into life.