The New York Yankees have a J.A. Happ problem on their hands. Happ has a long way to go before triggering a 2021 testing option. At 37 years old, the right-handed pitcher would have needed to start 27 games or pitch 165 innings if he wished to cash in on a $17 million deal for 2021.
However, given the abbreviated season, the prorated levels would be 10 starts or 61 1/3 innings. With three starts already on the board, the Yankees are doing everything they can to stay away from that vesting option, which would take a large chunk of cash away from their available monies.
Ultimately, the Yankees want no part in that contract extension, considering Happ has been lackluster since the beginning of last year. He finished 2019 with a 4.91 ERA over 161 innings pitched. This year so far, he has a 6.39 ERA over 12 innings, allowing nine earned runs and striking out just six batters. With his velocity down and control inadequate, teams have been slugging the former Toronto Blue Jay regularly.
Last week, the Yankees skipped Happ in the rotation, given his lack of consistency and confidence from the coaching staff. When asked about the Yankees trying to steer clear of his vesting option for next season, Happ stated:
“That is a subject that I think I am going to stay away from right now.”
Happ had two conversations with manager Aaron Boone regarding the situation.
“One of them went very well and the second one I didn’t think went very well,” he said. He didn’t want to elaborate much more.
Conclusively, being skipped in the starting rotation frustrated J.A., who fully expected to be a consistent contributor this season. He has been quite poor over three starts, but his last one against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday evening was motivating. Over 5.2 innings, he allowed just three hits and one run. This was his best outing of the year by a large margin, but it was against a lowly Boston team that could barely fair in Triple-A.
His vesting option for next season is the biggest concern, as it is illegal for major league teams to manipulate player usage. They have to have legitimate reasons to skip a player in the rotation, and considering how poorly he had been performing, they have a pretty good justification.