JB: Jays pay big money for FA J.A. Happ
Guess Who’s Back? Jays Sign Happ to Three-Year Deal
By Jay Blue
Blue Jays from Away
Another shoe has most certainly dropped. The Blue Jays addressed another gap in their starting rotation by signing J.A. Happ to a three-year deal worth $36 million.
@BlueJays have signed LHP J.A. Happ to a 3-year deal worth $36 million (US). Welcome back
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) November 28, 2015
We all know Happ well in these parts. Acquired in July of 2012 from the Houston Astros, Happ finished that season making 10 appearances (six starts) with the Blue Jays and posting a lacklustre 4.69 ERA but a much better 2.80 FIP over 40 1/3 innings. In 2013, Happ got a bump in salary (to $3.7 million) and made 18 starts around a horrific head and subsequent knee injury, throwing 92 2/3 innings with a 4.56 ERA, 4.31 FIP and 1.47 WHIP.
In 2014, Happ, making $5.2 million, had his best major league season since 2009 with the Phillies, throwing 158 innings with a 4.22 ERA, 4.27 FIP and 1.34 WHIP, striking out 19.8% and walking 7.6%. Traded in the offseason to Seattle, Happ then struggled somewhat with the Mariners (4.64 ERA, 4.12 FIP, 1.41 WHIP) but went all gangbusters after getting traded to Pittsburgh for their playoff run. In Pittsburgh, he dropped his ERA to 1.85 with a 2.19 FIP and 1.03 WHIP, striking out 27.7% of batters and walking just 5.2% over 63 1/3 innings. His 172 innings total mark his highest major league total and clearly, it earned him some big money as he became a free agent (without compensation) in the offseason.
As John Lott noted, according to Travis Sawchik, Pittsburgh’s pitching coach, Ray Searage noticed a flaw in Happ’s delivery and made a correction in his delivery that allowed him to have better command and even pick up some velocity. Apparently, he was able to do more than just benefit statistically from being in a league where one out of nine batters is a pitcher. The gigantic question is whether Happ is going to be able to maintain the improvements he saw with the Pirates now that he’s back in the AL East.
Happ is now signed for three years at $36 million giving the Jays a potential starting rotation of Marcus Stroman (approx. $0.5147 million), R.A. Dickey ($12 million), Marco Estrada ($11 million), Jesse Chavez ($4.7 million) and Happ (approx. $12 million). This puts the starting rotation at just over $40 million without considering signing anyone else for depth. What this also does is likely rule the Blue Jays out of the David Price sweepstakes.
What do you think of this move? Should the Jays have saved up for Price? Or is picking up back end starters the way to go?
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