36-Year-Old Left-Hander Must Still Pass Physical, General Manager Cashman Says He's Ready To Pivot To Team's Other Needs

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It appears the Yankees got their guy.

According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, left-hander J.A. Happ has agreed to a two-year contract with an option for a third year, which would kick in if he reaches a certain number of innings and starts.

USA Today’s Bob Nightingale reported Happ would receive around $35 million over the first two years.

Assuming the final details are ironed out and a physical is passed, 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.

General manager Brian Cashman was careful to not get too specific about the deal when he addressed reporters on Wednesday night, but he raved about Happ, who went 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA in 11 starts for the Yankees after being acquired from Toronto in late July.

“A real pro,” Cashman said. “Had a veteran presence within that clubhouse, knew exactly what was necessary and brought it every five days in the most competitive division in all of baseball.”

After the Yankees’ season ended with a four-game loss to eventual world champion Boston in the AL Division Series, Cashman said his top priority was to add multiple front-end arms to the rotation. He accomplished the first part by acquiring Paxton from Seattle on Nov. 19 for a package of prospects, including highly touted left-hander Justus Sheffield. Cashman then made it clear he would add another, but 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.

Cashman reportedly took the same approach with Happ, initially offering just a two-year contract when most industry insiders believed the 36-year-old southpaw was looking for three years. But with the free-agent starting pitcher market starting to dry up and the asking prices very high on the trade front, Cashman compromised, injecting the third-year option into the offer.

Happ, who went a combined 17-6 with a 3.65 ERA for Toronto and New York this past season, started Game 1 of the ALDS against Boston, but lasted just two innings in New York’s 5-4 loss. However, he is 8-4 with a 2.98 ERA in 21 career appearances, including 20 starts, against the Red Sox.

It is believed the Yankees will next turn their attention to plugging some holes in their bullpen, but Cashman hinted adding a sixth starting pitcher is not out of the realm of possibility. He also addressed free agent sluggers Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. He had previously said the Yankees are actively pursuing Machado and have no interest in Harper, but said Wednesday none of that is set in stone.

“We are prepared to pivot and react at any moment if things change,” Cashman said. “You know where my current focuses are, but at the same time we’re a fully operational Death Star.”