Report: Yankees Looking To Deal J.A. Happ

Team Wants Luxury-Tax Relief In Event Cole Signs

Ryan Chatelain
December 10, 2019 - 11:34 am

The Yankees are actively shopping pitcher J.A. Happ in anticipation of signing free agent Gerrit Cole, according to a report. 

Listen to your team news NOW.

Two executives from other teams told the New York Post's Joel Sherman about the Yanks' interest in dealing Happ.

The Bombers made an undisclosed offer to Cole on Monday night, WFAN baseball insider Jon Heyman reported. The right-hander is expected to sign a contract worth at least $250 million. The Angels and Dodgers are believed to be the Yankees' top competition for Cole.

The Yankees acquired Happ in a trade with the Blue Jays in August 2018 and then re-signed the free agent left-hander to a two-year, $34 million contract last December. 

Yankees pitcher J.A. Happ pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays on Aug. 14, 2018, at Yankee Stadium.

By moving Happ, the Yankees could reduce their luxury-tax bill in 2020. They will undoubtedly surpass the first luxury-tax threshold of $208 million and will probably hit the second level at $228 million as well. General manager Brian Cashman appears to be trying to avoid reaching the top penalty level of $248 million.

But will the Yankees find a taker for Happ, who is 37 years old, coming off a season in which he had a 4.91 ERA and earns $17 million a year? Happ also has a $17 million vesting option for 2021 that triggers at 165 innings pitched or 27 starts.

Sherman noted that the Yankees included prospect Bryan Mitchell to entice the Padres into trading for Chase Headley after the 2017 season, and they might have to use a similar trick to deal Happ.

The Yankees' rotation for 2020 includes James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino. Also potentially in the mix are Jordan Montgomery, Jonathan Loaisiga and Deivi Garcia.