Happ had been linked to the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays in early-November reports. The 36-year-old left-hander started the 2018 season with the Blue Jays and was traded to the Yankees on July 26 for infielder Brandon Drury and outfielder Billy McKinney.
Happ finished the year with a 17-6 record, a 3.65 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and a career-high 193 strikeouts in 177.2 innings of work. His performance earned him an All-Star nod for the first time in his career.
The lefty started 11 games with New York and finished with a 7-0 record and a 2.69 ERA, including a losing ALDS appearance, after joining the team.
Signing the southpaw to a one-year contract would make sense for teams with playoff aspirations – notably the Brewers, Phillies, Astros and Yankees – as a way to round out a starting rotation without an expensive, long-term commitment. All of the teams reportedly involved in talks with Happ have considerable starting holes to fill.
The Blue Jays may not be planning for a championship in 2019, but signing Happ would bring back a veteran’s presence to a rotation that was projected as top-10 in 2018, but saw injuries to Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez quickly derail those predictions.
Youngsters Ryan Borucki, Sean Reid-Foley, Sam Gaviglio, Thomas Pannone and recently acquired Trent Thornton will compete for starting jobs with the Blue Jays in spring training.
The Yankees’ move to get Canadian left-hander James Paxton from the Seattle Mariners gave traction to a potential Happ-Jays reunion, but New York is still adamant on adding one more starter, according to Morosi.
A current Yankees rotation most likely has Luis Severino, Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Sonny Gray as starters, although it appears general manager Brian Cashman will try and shop Gray in the trade market.