Yankees Acquire J.A. Happ From Toronto For Brandon Drury And Billy McKinney

J.A. Happ
Chris O'Meara / AP

The New York Yankees addressed one of their glaring needs by bolstering their starting rotation with the acquisition of J.A. Happ from the Toronto Blue Jays. Happ was on the radar of several teams, including the Boston Red Sox, who have had their own woes with starting pitching this season despite leading the AL East division. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman managed to hammer out the deal late this afternoon, and for much less than would have been expected only a couple of days ago, as reported by CBS Sports.

Toronto picks up a pair of players that the Yankees have not been able to use much this year. Brandon Drury was hitting .176 at the time the deal was struck, and although he managed to play each infield position this season, not much more can be said for him. Drury has had extremely limited playing time, first due to migraines and double vision, and then by losing his starting job to his replacement, rookie Miguel Andujar. The good news for Toronto is that with increased playing time, Drury may see his offensive numbers climb, and they get a highly versatile defensive player.

Billy McKinney was a curious inclusion in the deal in that he has spent all but a couple games this year in the minors, currently in AAA. His offensive numbers haven’t been turning any heads at .230 with 13 home runs. He isn’t a particularly skilled defensive outfielder, but he is affordable and he is under club control for a while, so that filled what Toronto was mostly looking for in a deal for Happ after dropping their asking prices for all their available players yesterday.

In Happ, the Yankees get a dependable enough fourth starter that can beat the Red Sox. The Yankees have been floundering with Sonny Gray filling that spot in the rotation, so despite Happ’s less-than-average season compared to his career numbers, he can still eat innings and he is now one more arm that Boston cannot acquire. The Yankees have assumed all of Happ’s remaining salary, in part for being able to offer a lesser package of players than Happ would normally command. The Yankees are Happ’s sixth big league team, as reported by ESPN.

The deal works for both teams in that Toronto picks up a pair of players they can add to their roster right now if needed, and they shed salary as they prepare for an off-season of free agent shopping. The Yankees have someone that will take the ball every fifth day and generally keep them in the game until the fifth or sixth inning, for a low cost in prospects and against the cap this season. Where Happ will likely pay his dividends is taking the ball for three starts against Boston this regular season, and potentially in the postseason where Happ can swing to the bullpen to work long if needed should New York go to a three-man rotation.