Trade season is officially in full swing for the Yankees. They struck a deal for reliever Zach Britton earlier this week, and yesterday, they moved to shore up their rotation by bringing in J.A. Happ. The Yankees have been linked to Happ for weeks, but the rumors really started heating up over the past couple days. Now, they have their man, in exchange for infielder Brandon Drury and Triple-A outfielder Billy McKinney.
#Yankees getting J.A. Happ for Drury and Billy McKinney, per @Feinsand and @JonHeyman. Drury alone would be quite a score for #BlueJays. He is 25 with three more years of control, albeit with nowhere to play in NY. Happ is 35 and a rental.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 26, 2018
The Yankees did what they needed to do to address a major hole in their rotation, but many observers felt that the Blue Jays did well with their return. Happ is a much better player than both Drury and McKinney right now, but Drury still has over three years of team control, and McKinney has rookie eligibility. That’s plenty of time for either to come back to haunt the Yankees once Happ’s three-month term with the team is up.
Yankees still appear to be the leader in the race for J.A. Happ, but other teams remain engaged with Blue Jays. Brewers & Cubs still in play, though 1-2 more may also be in the mix. Toronto may not get its initial high asking price, but the heavy competition should benefit Jays.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 26, 2018
If the Yankees paid a high price, it might be because of the decent amount of competition there was for Happ. He just might be the best starter that is readily available on the market, so it’s not surprising there was plenty of interest in Happ, or that the Blue Jays were able to get a satisfactory return for him.
Yankees gave up RHP Taylor Widener and 2B Nick Solak to get Drury. Both played at AA right now. So add McKinney and you get 3 players for 2 months of Happ. Time will tell who they become.— Sweeny Murti (@YankeesWFAN) July 26, 2018
If Happ wins 3 starts against the Red Sox will it be worth the cost?
Here’s an interesting point. The Yankees gave up a pair of mid-level prospects for Drury, so, along with McKinney, they’ve essentially turned a trio of serviceable farmhands into a half-season of Happ. Is that an overpay? Will the price be justified if Happ can help turn the tide in the race with the Red Sox?
Speaking of Boston, there was plenty of discussion of Happ’s numbers against the Yankees’ primary rival:
J.A. Happ vs Red Sox since 2015:— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) July 26, 2018
.202 opp BA
45 K/18 BB
Notable Red Sox career vs J.A. Happ:— Marc Weber (@MarcWeberSports) July 26, 2018
Mookie Betts 6-32 (.188 avg)
J.D. Martinez 4-15 (.267 avg)
Andrew Benintendi 0-15 (.000 avg)
Xander Bogaerts 4-26 (.154 avg)#Yankees
Personally, I see little reason to believe that a pitcher’s numbers in small samples against particular teams and players, culled across several different years, offer any predictive value. Still, people seem impressed with Happ’s work against the Red Sox, and hey, it certainly doesn’t hurt that Happ has pitched well in Boston before.
Drury said he is “excited” to go to the Blue Jays and finish the season strong. Said his experience with the Yankees wasn’t what he expected.— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) July 26, 2018
Drury’s inclusion in the trade was sensible, since there just wasn’t much playing time for him, and he deserves a chance to see if he’s a major-league regular. Still, it’s unfortunate things went so sideways during his brief time in New York. Drury has dealt with myriad injuries and tough breaks, and admitted to struggling with vision problems early in the year. Hopefully he has better luck staying healthy and on the field in Toronto.
A brief history of OF prospect Billy McKinney— Anthony Castrovince (@castrovince) July 26, 2018
July 2014: involved in Jeff Samardzija/Addison Russell trade
July 2016: involved in Aroldis Chapman/Gleyber Torres trade
July 2018: involved J.A. Happ trade
He's like the San Francisco Giants of getting dealt.
Is it really a deadline trade if Billy McKinney isn't a secondary piece?— Michael Baumann (@MJ_Baumann) July 26, 2018
McKinney seems to have stumbled onto his own strange, inconvenient strand of Even Year Magic. He will be on to his fourth organization in five seasons. It’s easy to just look at prospects as names on a spreadsheet and as capital to be utilized, but they are people, and having to repeatedly pack up and move at a moment’s notice, while getting paid peanuts to play in the minors, can’t be easy.
Mark Payton has been roommates with Dustin Fowler, Jake Cave and Billy McKinney over the last two years.— Conor Foley (@RailRidersTT) July 26, 2018
After hearing all about Justus Sheffield’s desire for a new roommate after seeing his current one shipped away in the Britton deal, we have even more roommate coverage. 26-year-old outfielder Mark Payton, currently at Triple-A, has roomed with three former Yankee outfield prospects that have been traded over the past year. Stay away from this guy if you’re not looking to be relocated any time soon.
Brian Cashman’s response to whether the Yankees will make another move before the deadline: “Time will tell. We are definitely as active as everybody is.”— Mandy Bell (@MandyBell02) July 26, 2018
Brian Cashman: "You have to push some chips in the middle of the table if you want to play the game."— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) July 26, 2018
After augmenting the Yankees’ already-super bullpen and shoring up to the rotation, you could forgive Brian Cashman for calling it a deadline, but he doesn’t sound like a man who’s ready to rest. This might be the conclusion of the Yankees’ trade business, or, Cashman could pull something out of thin air at the last minute.
Ninja Cash is always lurking. The Happ deal wasn’t really an appearence of Ninja Cash, though:
This trade, in truth, was somewhat predictable. The Yankees had one glaring weakness, and the Blue Jays had the pitcher who profiled as the best solution. A deal made plenty of sense, and the Yankees are now a better team for it.