2018 was a rough year for the Yankees’ starting pitchers. They lost Jordan Montgomery to Tommy John surgery, Masahiro Tanaka missed a month with double hamstring strains, and Luis Severino fell off a cliff in the second half. Monty’s replacements (Domingo German, Jonathan Loaisiga) didn’t fare well, and Sonny Gray set the team up for a loss nearly every time he took the mound.
By the time the trade deadline rolled around, the Yankees were desperate for help. Enter: J.A. Happ. Far from being any team’s ace, the veteran lefty somehow ended up being the best option available in July. It was disappointing that they couldn’t pry someone like Jacob deGrom away, but most fans were fine with the trade because he couldn’t possibly be worse than Gray. It was a very low bar.
Happ ended up being great for the Yankees, though! He pitched to a 2.69 ERA (163 ERA+) through 63.2 innings. Only two of his 11 starts in pinstripes during the regular season were sub-par. Of course, we all remember his postseason start against Boston. The lefty surrendered five earned runs through two innings in Game One of the ALDS. It is a bummer that he got rocked after being historically good against the Red Sox, but he had faced them three times during the span of one month. All in all, he was one of the team’s best starters in the second half.
Like CC Sabathia, Happ is now a free agent. That leaves the Yankees with a rotation consisting of just Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka. Sonny Gray is still on the team, but Brian Cashman has already made it clear that they plan to move him. Montgomery isn’t expected to return until late in the year, so the Bombers will need to add two or three pitchers to the rotation.
Hopefully, they will fill at least one hole with one of the top-tier free agent pitchers, like Patrick Corbin. They could choose to have a spring training competition and allow the likes of German, Loaisiga, Chance Adams, and Justus Sheffield duke it out for one of the other rotation spots.
Another option is to bring back either one or both of Happ and Sabathia. Happ, 36, is coming off of a three-year, $36 million contract. It’s unclear if he would be open to a one-year deal, but he is likely looking to secure something in the $13MM plus range per year. Anything more than a one-year deal would probably be a bad idea in the long run.
Do you think the Yankees should bring back Happ next year? If not, how do you see them filling the rotation? Vote in the poll below and be sure to share your opinion in the comments section.
Should the Yankees bring J.A. Happ back in 2019?
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