NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It appears the Yankees know a good thing when they see it.
According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the Bombers are closing in on a contract agreement with free-agent starting pitcher J.A. Happ.
Assuming the deal gets done, Happ, 36, who is 109-82 with a 3.90 ERA in 12 MLB seasons, will join a rotation that consists of Luis Severino, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia.
In the days following the Yankees’ four-game loss in the AL Division Series to the eventual world champion Boston Red Sox, general manager Brian Cashman spoke publicly about the need to upgrade the team’s starting pitching. After re-signing Sabathia, who will turn 39 in July, to a one-year, $8 million deal, Cashman turned his attention to top-of-the-rotation help, acquiring left-hander Paxton on Nov. 19 from the Seattle Mariners for top-rated pitching prospect Justus Sheffield and two other prospects.
Cashman maintained that adding at least one more front-end arm remained his top priority, but he seemed to want to do so on his terms. He reportedly drew a line in the sand on free agents Patrick Corbin and Nathan Eovaldi, refusing to go beyond five years with the former and three with the latter and then watched as Corbin signed for six years — and a staggering $140 million — with Washington, and Eovaldi inked a four-year, $68 million deal with Boston.
Undaunted, Cashman reportedly took the same approach with the Happ, initially offering just a two-year contract when most industry insiders believed the 36-year-old southpaw was looking for three years. Now that the free-agent starting pitcher market is starting to dry up and the asking prices are very high on the trade front, it appears Cashman is ready to do what’s necessary to sign Happ. The Philadelphia Phillies are reportedly among the teams hot on his tail as well.
Happ went a combined 17-6 with a 3.65 ERA for Toronto and New York this past season, including 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA in 11 starts after the Yankees acquired him in a trade on July 26. He started Game 1 of the ALDS against Boston, but lasted just two innings in New York’s 5-4 loss. However, Happ is 8-4 with a 2.98 ERA in 21 career appearances, including 20 starts, against the Red Sox.
After addressing their rotation, it is believed the Yankees will turn their attention to solidifying their bullpen. They are also reportedly the front-runner to sign star infielder Manny Machado.