By Patrick Brewer, Managing Editor
On Friday afternoon, the Blue Jays announced the signing of left-hander J.A. Happ to a three-year contract worth $36 million in total. After struggling throughout his early career, Happ was traded from the Astros to the Blue Jays, where he pitched for parts of three seasons and finished with an ERA of 4.39 during that span. Following an offseason trade from Toronto to Seattle, Happ struggled in the first part of 2015, posting an even worse 4.64 ERA in twenty-one appearances with the Mariners before ending up with the Pirates at mid-season. Happ finished the season strong, with an ERA of under 2.00 in eleven starts for the Pittsburgh Pirates after being. traded at the deadline.
1. Blue Jays Out on Price?
With the signing of J.A. Happ to a three-year contract worth $36 million, the Blue Jays have further solidified their rotation depth. However, this begs the question on whether the Blue Jays are done upgrading their pitching staff, or if they could still bring Price back. As it currently stands, the Jays have some combination of R.A. Dickey, Marco Estrada, Drew Hutchinson, J.A. Happ, Marcus Stroman, and Jesse Chavez in their pitching staff. That is even if they choose, or more likely are unable, to bring back David Price on a long-term deal. All this deal does for the Jays is add some rotation depth, all while making money a little tighter.
2. J.A. Happ Returns to Toronto
With his contract with Toronto in hand, J.A. Happ is returning to the Great White North for his second stint with the Blue Jays. Happ previously played with the Blue Jays from 2012-2014 after being traded from the Houston Astros as part of a rather large deal. Happ made ten starts for the Jays in 2012 finishing with a 4.46 ERA. He followed that with 18 starts and a 4.56 ERA in 2013, and a 4.22 ERA in 30 appearances (26 starts) in 2014 before being traded to the Seattle Mariners. Happ struggled in his time with Toronto and Seattle right after, but he is looking to build on his second half success with Pittsburgh last season.
3. Toronto Deepens Pitching Staff
While the potential for re-signing David Price is still up in the air, the Jays followed the re-signing of Marco Estrada and the trade for Jesse Chavez, with another move to sure up the overall rotation depth. Happ will likely slot in behind Stroman and Estrada, with some combination of R.A. Dickey, Jesse Chavez and Drew Hutchinson in the back-end of the rotation and/or the bullpen. This move gives the Jays more options, even if Price does not come back, and also gives them a left-handed option that they do not have in the starting rotation outside of Price. The price for Happ was cheaper than many other starters on the market will be, and the Jays are hopefully banking on Happ to build on his late season success with Pittsburgh in 2015.