Tag: JA Happ Page 1 of 6

Report: Yankees decline JA Happ’s 2021 option

File this under not surprising. JA Happ is now a free agent. It’s pretty clear that Happ’s vesting option did not vest, which then turned it into a club option. There was no way the team was going to pick that up for $17 million.

Now, we may not be done hearing about Happ just yet. Things got a bit contentious during the regular season regarding the southpaw’s vesting option. We still don’t know if the two sides renegotiated the option or if an arbiter rendered a decision on it, but whatever the case was, Happ didn’t meet the criteria. Perhaps this leads to a grievance in the near future.

Needless to say, I wouldn’t expect Happ back next season. As good as he was down the stretch in the regular season, he and the Yankees clearly do not get along. Not like it would be wise to bet on a 38 year-old pitcher, anyway.

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The end of JA Happ in pinstripes [2020 Season Review]

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JA Happ wasn’t supposed to be on the Yankees this season. The team reportedly shopped him in the winter after a terrible 2019 campaign but never wound up trading him. As it turns out, holding onto him mostly paid off. He may have been disgruntled with how he was handled, but nonetheless, the lefty was a key figure in the rotation over the final month of the regular season. The narrative quickly changed come the ALDS, but all told, Happ was a net positive for the Yankees in 2020.

Vesting option saga

Before COVID-19 altered the season for good, Happ needed to make 27 starts or throw 165 innings in order to have his 2021 $17 million option picked up. Instead, as a result of a shortened season, those triggers were prorated to 10 starts and 61 1/3 innings. Or, so we thought. Happ was excluded from that rule and actually had to either have his vesting option renegotiated or arbitrated. We’re still awaiting word on a solution.

The Yankees wound up skipping Happ’s turn in the rotation a couple of times in August. After his second start of the season on August 5th, after which he had a 10.29 ERA in 7 innings, the Yankees didn’t bring the veteran back to the mound until August 16th. But even after pitching well that day (one out short of six innings pitched, one run allowed), the Yankees passed over him once more. He didn’t start again until August 29th against the Mets. Happ was none too pleased:

The Yankees didn’t skip Happ again for the rest of the season. The big reason? Happ was great over the final month of the year, which I’ll touch upon shortly. But even if he struggled, the Yankees may not have overlooked him anyway because of James Paxton’s absence. In the end, Happ tallied 9 starts and 49 1/3 innings this year, short of the prorated figures we thought he’d have to hit initially.

Now, I can’t say I’m sympathetic to Happ’s gripes earlier in the year. It’s one thing if he pitched well out of the gate, but he didn’t. Those two rough starts plus a dreadful 2019 made skipping him a no brainer. Brian Cashman basically said as much. Had he pitched well from the get go, it might have been a different story.

Thoughts after the end of season press conferences

Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman spoke to the media yesterday afternoon. Each took the better part of an hour for their discussions with the media, though I think folks were a bit more curious to hear what the general manager had to say. We had already heard Boone talk a bit after the Game 5 loss, though yesterday came with a few days to marinate after the end of the season. I know I was more interested in what Cashman had to say, at least.

I do have one thing I want to say about Boone’s presser, but the rest of my thoughts relate to Cashman’s briefing. Without further ado, let’s get to it.

Aaron Boone needs to stop saying how close the Yankees are to winning a title.

This is grating. Boone said this in what seemed like a dozen different ways yesterday. Close? If this is close, then how do you describe the 2001 Yankees? Or the 2011 Rangers? Maybe make a World Series before you start saying that this team is close. Here’s how Boone’s seasons have ended since taking the helm:

  1. 2018: 100-62, Wild Card, Lost ALDS to Red Sox 3-1
  2. 2019: 103-59, Division Title, Lost ALCS to Astros 4-2
  3. 2020: 33-27, Wild Card, Lost ALDS to Rays 3-2

The “closest” Boone’s Yankees have gotten was a year ago. I don’t think there’s any other way to describe 2020 except as a step back for this group, unusual circumstances of this season notwithstanding.

Mailbag: Postseason bullpen strategy, Gary Sánchez’s future

Nothing to do with today’s mailbag, but I can’t wait to see this guy pitch tonight.

Happy Friday, everyone. We’re just a few hours away from Game 5. In the meantime, let’s open up this week’s mailbag. I’m only answering two questions because so many of this week’s questions related to the offseason after losses in Game 2 and Game 3. Let’s wait until the Yankees are actually eliminated (if they are eliminated!) to discuss the 2021 plans.

As always, shoot your questions to viewsfrom 314 [at] gmail [dot] com. Away we go:

Dan asked/suggested: The Yanks need to rethink their bullpen usage. Considering the no off days and the fact that they have only three good relievers, the Yanks should try using starters out of the pen on their throw days. It worked for the Nats last year. Do you think Masahiro Tanaka or JA Happ are up for it? 

I understand this sentiment, but the Nationals didn’t have much of a choice last year. The only reliever Washington could really trust was Daniel Hudson. Sean Doolittle too, I suppose. The Yankees have a deeper bullpen that’s really good on paper, inconsistencies aside. And sure, the lack of off days this postseason makes it more difficult on the Yankees’ traditional relievers, but it’s not as if that makes it any easier for starters as well.

It’s also important to point out that Washington really only did this with Patrick Corbin, who came out of the ‘pen five times last October. Yes, Stephen Strasburg relieved in the do-or-die Wild Card Game and Max Scherzer made one bullpen appearance in the NLDS, but that’s it.

ALDS Game 2: So you centered a gameplan around JA Happ

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There’s a lot to complain about in this one, folks. The Yankees fell 7-5 in spite of Giancarlo Stanton’s heroics. The decision to use Deivi García as an opener for JA Happ backfired, CB Bucknor had himself a night, and the Yankees offense just fell short against Tampa Bay’s bullpen. This best-of-five series is now level at one a piece. Let’s get to the takeaways.

If I were the Yankees, I’d simply would have waited as long as possible to use JA Happ in this series. I know, I know. Happ had a resurgence during the regular season. But there’s no way I want to see him get the ball before Masahiro Tanaka in a playoff series with both guys fully rested. It’s overthinking things. Yes, hindsight is 20/20 and all, but give me Tanaka over Happ as the bulk guy every time.

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