While the Yankees look to add the league’s top available free-agent arm in Gerrit Cole, it also appears that they are looking to unload one of their southpaws.
According to SNY’s Andy Martino, the Yankees are shopping veteran starter, JA Happ, to clear up more money to mount a more serious challenge for Cole.
The Yankees submitted their first offer for Cole earlier this week in a believed seven-year, $245 million deal.
While it was initially believed to not be enough, the Washington Nationals re-signing Stephen Strasburg to a new deal on Monday with those same figures now has many believing Cole’s contract could eclipse $300 million.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has been given the green light to go for Cole, but the expected bidding war between him and the Los Angeles Angels is going to test just how deep the organization’s pockets are.
Getting Happ’s contract off the books would certainly help regain some more financial flexibility. The 37-year-old is owed $17 million next season, with an additional $17 million option in 2021 — though it won’t get that far at this point.
Even if the Yankees can move Happ, it won’t save them from exceeding the luxury tax threshold should they sign Cole for as much as $35-plus-million per season.
Happ came crashing back down to Earth in 2019 following his impressive debut with the Yankees during the second half of the 2018 campaign.
After going 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA after being acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays at the 2018 trade deadline, Happ went 12-8 with a 4.91 ERA and a 1.295 WHIP.
Potential teams interested in Happ have not been disclosed as of yet, but the Yankees might have to connect more to the deal to coax a team to take that large a contract.
Happ’s departure would leave the Yankees with a prospective top four of Cole (if he signs), Luis Severino, James Paxton, and Masahiro Tanaka.
That’s a pretty fearsome foursome.
For the fifth slot, the Yankees could turn to Domingo German when his suspension for violating the league’s domestic violence policy ends. Jonathan Loaisiga, Jordan Mongomery, and Deivi Garcia are also No. 5 options.