JA Happ, Clarke Schmidt, and the Trade Deadline

When is enough, enough? Earlier this week, we learned that the Yankees would skip JA Happ in the rotation because of two off days this week. This was a sensible decision given the continuation of his bad 2019 into his first two starts of 2020. The veteran lefty, or at least his rotation spot, isn’t in need again until Monday. But instead, the Yankees announced that he’ll start Sunday against Boston. I know it’s just a difference of one day, but Jordan Montgomery could have gone on regular rest Sunday. Plus, a certain pitching prospect is in line for Monday.

Running Happ out against Boston’s lineup isn’t likely to get him back on track. Yes, the Red Sox have struggled this year. Still, even without Mookie Betts, there are some excellent hitters in that lineup who probably wouldn’t mind facing Happ. How could hitters not want to face him? He’s given up three homers and walked eight in just seven innings this season to follow up last year’s 4.91 ERA. Do the Yankees really need to keep trying this? We know what Happ is at this point. So, with the trade deadline a little more than two weeks away, it’s time to figure out what the organization has internally (i.e. Clarke Schmidt). Not only is Happ bad, but if Paxton can’t regain his velocity, the Yankees should nab another starter. Maybe that starter is already in waiting at the Alternate Site.

Schmidt was scheduled to throw five innings in Scranton yesterday, which would put him in line to make his next turn on Monday. That should be in the Bronx, but it looks like it won’t be. And it could have worked out just fine, too. Again, instead of Happ Sunday, Montgomery could have pitched on normal rest leaving Monday wide open. Alas.

Putting Schmidt in the rotation now would allow him to start three times before the deadline. As Bobby said earlier this week, might as well size him up before the deadline. Now, I don’t know if that’s enough time to evaluate his readiness to stick in the rotation, but it’s better than not seeing him face big league hitters until mid-September when it’ll be too late to make a trade.

There’s really no need to salvage Happ at this point. Stick him in the bullpen, let him eat some garbage time innings, and maybe try him in similar situations that Luis Avilán is currently getting. Give Schmidt his chance, and if it works out, great. If not, the trade market will still be available.


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  1. Wire Fan

    I wonder if the Braves would take Happ? They have all sorts of pitching injuries but probably enough talent to get into the playoffs.

    I know pitching depth is always a good thing but with a short season the Yankees could either bullpen one spot or roll with Schmidt. And come playoff time it is not like he will be starting (for either team).

    • Mungo

      The issue with trading Happ is that vesting option. Anyone looking to acquire him will not want to worry about being on the hook for $17M next year. The Yankees don’t want that worry either. It’s a ticking timebomb. Very surprised they didn’t skip over him this turn through the rotation. If nothing else, skipping him when the schedule allows makes it more likely they can guarantee he doesn’t reach 10 starts.

  2. Crash Davis

    The Yankees should be very conservative when evaluating trade options this season. It is not worth trading a legitimate prospect for a rental to win the World Series this season. Fair or not, the 2020 World Series winner will always have an asterisk next to their name.

  3. This Year

    I completely agree, but do we have any idea how Deivi Garcia is doing at Scranton? He ended up at a higher level than Schmidt last year, I think. I know he did poorly at Scranton once promoted, and Schmidt did look great in pre-season, so this is probably the right call. Just wondering how far DG’s stock has fallen (see where he fell out of top 100 prospects). Just not sure why given his meteoric rise and his small sample at Scranton.

  4. It’s the Red Sox, I’m not going to root for the Red Sox, but the worst case scenario is Happ having a mediocre or better start, convincing them to give him enough leash to start through the trade deadline. It seems like he needs to get clobbered again to get pushed out of the way – which I want, but I also don’t want to watch the Red Sox clobber the Yankees. Going to be tough watch for sunday night baseball.

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