J.A. Happ, Texas Rangers potential offseason acquisition: Continuing our look at players the Rangers could potentially target in a trade this offseason, we take a look at one of the less-exciting options, 32 year old lefthanded starting pitcher J.A. Happ.
Happ has spent parts of 8 seasons in the majors, and has pitched largely as a starter, with 140 of his 164 career games coming as a starting pitcher. Happ has a career 4.24 ERA (good for a 95 ERA+) and a career 4.36 FIP.
Happ was a 3rd round draft pick of the Phillies in 2004, and finished second in the Rookie of the Year balloting in 2009, when he went 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA in 166 IP. The ERA belied a 4.33 FIP, however, and moving forward, Happ's ERA has generally been more in line with that low-4 FIP than the sub-3 ERA he put up as a rookie.
Happ ended up getting dealt to the Astros in the middle of 2010, along with Anthony Gose and Jonathan Villar, in the deal that brought Roy Oswalt to
Texas Philadelphia. Astros scouts supposedly were comparing Happ to Cliff Lee, which was...well, that was a bit optimistic.
Happ spent just under two seasons with the Astros before being sent to Toronto in a big, weird deal of spare parts. The Astros ended up sending Happ, David Carpenter, and Brandon Lyon to the Jays for Ben Francisco, Francisco Cordero, Kevin Comer, Joseph Musgrove, Carlos Perez, David Rollins and Asher Wojciechowski. Happ has been fairly underwhelming with the Jays, but his $6.7 million team option for 2015 is not unreasonable, so the Jays picked up that option and have reportedly been shopping him.
Happ is a free agent after 2015, so he's a one-year solution. He's also not very good -- he had a 4.2 bWAR in 2009, but otherwise, his best bWAR season is 1.4, which he's done twice (in 2010 and in 2014). You're trading for him basically hoping he'll be worth a win to a win and a half while not killing you from the #4 spot in the rotation.
At $6.7 million, he's getting about market value for a one win player on the free agent market, so there's not a ton of surplus value there. I don't know what sort of offers the Blue Jays are getting, or what they're seeking out for Happ, but I suspect that it isn't much, a couple of fringe prospects, a reliever out of options who hasn't established himself as a major leaguer, or an arbitration-eligible player whose current team is considering non-tendering him. And I can't imagine that Happ is the Rangers' first choice. But with a need for starting pitching and a limited budget, Happ is someone who is probably on the radar, and who could end up here.