New York Yankees news, rumors: Trading J.A. Happ, adding lefty bat, more!

New York Yankees, J.A. Happ
May 9, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher J.A. Happ (34) throws the ball against the Seattle Mariners during the second inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training in a few weeks, the remainder of the offseason will feel accelerated. The new year is right around the bend, and New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has already activated his most significant action this period with the signing of Gerrit Cole.

Now, the priorities land on adding diversity and unloading salary space to make room for Cole and his $36 million per season. That’s where J.A. Happ enters the fray, as his $17 million per season doesn’t seem required anymore after posting a bloated 4.91 ERA in 2019.

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The Yankees aren’t trying to get rid of Happ since he’s a capable pitcher who played well in 2018. It’s more about money. At 37-years-old, the lefty pitcher is expendable, as the Yankees try to lessen the inevitable luxury tax penalty they will face. Shedding their No. 5 pitcher, which is where Happ would have landed in the rotation (Jordan Montgomery can easily replace him), makes sense. The Blue Jays and Brewers have both been linked to Happ as the Yankees search for a team that is willing to consume his contract.

Finding a lefty bat:

With a majority of the Yankees’ projected lineup next year bring right-handed, the search for a lefty hitter has become pressing. The departure of Didi Gregorius has left Brett Gardner, Mike Tauchman, Tyler Wade, Mike Ford, and Aaron Hicks as lefty options, but most of them are reserves.

Veteran infielder Joe Panik has been floated as an option, but he’s more of a defensive threat than an offensive producer. Add Kyle Schwarber to the mix, a player who launched 38 homers last season, and the Bombers have two targets in their sights. Trading for Schwarber might force Cashman to part with more capital that he would theoretically desire, but the Cubs’ top slugger might be worth the price.

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