Former Phillies LHP J.A. Happ unhappy with Yankees
By Matt Rappa
Former Phillies left-handed pitcher J.A. Happ is not happy with the Yankees
It has been more than 16 years since the Philadelphia Phillies drafted Illinois native J.A. Happ in the third round of the 2004 amateur draft out of Northwestern University. Three years later, amid the start of the team’s magical postseason run in 2007, Happ debuted and went on to pitch in 47 games and 31 starts in red pinstripes.
Happ was then dealt to the Houston Astros in July 2010 as part of the trade that brought Roy Oswalt to the Phillies to complement eventual Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay and 2008 World Series Most Valuable Player Cole Hamels in the rotation.
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From then to the 2018 trade deadline, Happ also played for the Toronto Blue Jays (2012-14), Seattle Mariners (2015), Pittsburgh Pirates (2015), as well as a second stint with the Blue Jays, before being dealt to the Yankees.
Happ finished the 2018 season going a perfect 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA in 11 starts for the Yankees; in 2019, he went 12-8 with a 4.91 ERA across 31 appearances (30 starts). The 37-year-old’s stats this season are not as eye-catching, however, going 1-1 with a 6.39 ERA in three starts. One of those starts came against the Phillies, where in just three innings he allowed as many hits, four runs, and six walks.
Amid his impending free agency, Happ reportedly is not happy the Yankees are not giving him the opportunity to pitch and try to achieve two milestones needed for his $17 million option to vest for the 2021 season.
“It actually doesn’t take too much to figure out sort of what could be going on,” Happ told MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. “I think I can help our team. I’d like to be out there every five days.”
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Happ needs just 10 starts and 62 innings to have his 2021 contract to vest. He currently sits at three starts and 12 2/3 innings. The Yankees have not played him since August 16, a start in which he actually earned the winning decision after allowing just one run in 5 2/3 innings, albeit against the lowly Boston Red Sox. This season in total, he has yielded nine earned runs on 10 hits, four home runs, and a 6-to-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Overall, the 14-year veteran is on a two-year, $34 million pact across the 2019-20 seasons. Happ’s prolonged career recently helped him achieve his 1,500th career strikeout, making him the 220th pitcher in MLB history to reach the milestone; he coincidentally reached the feat while starting against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
With the regular season currently slated to end exactly one month from Thursday, it is hard to see Happ’s contract vesting at this point. Perhaps, he could seek a trade from the Yankees, with just four days remaining until the deadline.