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Breaking: Yankees acquire LHP James Paxton in exchange for LHP Justus Sheffield, RHP Erik Swanson, and OF Dom Thompson-Williams

The Yankees have made their first splash of the offseason by acquiring the Big Maple, James Paxton, from the Seattle Mariners. Fresh off his second-consecutive season at the top of the Mariner’s rotation, Paxton did not come cheap as the Yankees traded away their top prospect, Justus Sheffield, along with breakout prospects Erik Swanson and Dominic Thompson-Williams.

Creating a Yankees' trade package: JA Happ

Last year Cashman acquired Sonny Gray, Jaime Garcia, David Robertson, Tommy Khanle, and Todd Frazier before the July 31st deadline, which helped drive the Bombers to game seven of the ALCS, but they gave up some of their better prospect in the process. The team has its sights set on a championship, so GM Brian Cashman will undoubtedly upgrade the starting pitching at the deadline, but who and for what?

(Frank Gunn/CP)


The Yankees currently hold the best winning percentage in the league at .667 with an offense that is on pace to shatter the Mariners' single-season home run record. While the team seems almost unbeatable, there are some big chinks in the armor, specifically in the rotation. The Yankees lost Jordan Montgomery to Tommy John surgery last week, and Masahiro Tanaka is out two months with two damaged hamstrings. Luis Severino is a strong candidate for the CY Young award, and CC Sabathia is still fighting off father time, but Sonny Gray is still unreliable. 

The tricky part on predicting who will be available for the Yankees come July is predicting which teams will throw in the towel. The shortlist of possible available pitchers are as follows:


Player
Hand
Team
Record as of 6/25/18
L
San Francisco Giants
40-39
L
Texas Rangers
34-45
Chris Archer
R
Tampa Bay Rays
37-40
Blake Snell
L
Tampa Bay Rays
37-40
Francisco Liriano
L
Detroit Tigers
36-42
Michael Fulmer
R
Detroit Tigers
36-42
Patrick Corbin
L
Arizona D-Backs
44-33
J.A. Happ
L
Toronto Blue Jays
36-41
R
New York Mets
31-44
Noah Syndergaard
R
New York Mets
31-44

In this series of articles, we will look into various trade possibilities for the Yankees before the July 31st deadline.

Note: It is incredibly difficult to predict these trades exactly, as preferences of both teams involved are mostly unknown, so guessing prospects traded is not an exact science. What these articles provide is an entertaining exercise to get to know some possible trade targets and pieces. Enjoy!

Many fans want the big fish like Jacob deGrom or Madison Bumgarner, which would send the team into another stratosphere of talent, but their prices may be too costly for Brian Cashman’s liking. If this is the case, Cashman will look for a cheaper option, we looked into Cole Hamels earlier this month as an option, and now we will look into a division rival, JA Happ.

Happ would be a rental, as the 35-year-old is on the last year on his deal, which would make him one a cheaper option for the Yankees. He also would only cost the Yankees $4.4 million towards the luxury tax. The lefty would succeed as a middle of the rotation starter who could secure the rotation throughout the summer and postseason.

"Happy" has just under 20 innings of postseason experience with a 3.72 ERA, 2 HR, 10 BB, and 19 strikeouts. Which may not be Bumgarner level, but it is the experience that this young pitching staff doesn’t quite have. The 10-year veteran also has a pretty good stat line at Yankee Stadium, in 48 IP the lefty has a 3.94 ERA with 10 HR, 20 BB, 42 K, and a .209/.291/.403 opponents slash line. These numbers again, don’t pop off the page, but his numbers should be encouraging for Yankee fans.

Enough about the past, what about now? The Toronto Blue Jay is working at a 3.56 ERA with a 1.033 WHIP, 1.2 HR/9, and 4.08 K/BB in 15 starts. What is helpful for the Yankees is his length, an average of just over six innings per nine, which would help the Yankees dominant bullpen down the stretch.
What would it take to pry Happ from a division rival? Not much, unless the Yankees get into a major bidding war with some other starter-needy teams, but I don’t see that happening. Cashman wouldn’t have to part with a top level prospect like Clint Frazier or Justus Sheffield, which is great for the Bombers. Happ would probably cost one mid-higher level prospect and two lower level prospects. What would that package entail?

The Trade: Toronto Blue Jays send LHP JA Happ to the Yankees for Luis Medina RHP, Tyler Wade INF, Ben Heller RHP

MILB.com 

If you read some of the previous trade package articles, you will recognize some of these names in this trade. Wade is blocked from the majors, by stud middle infielders Didi Gregorius and Gleyber Torres in the starting lineup and guys like Brandon Drury and Ronald Torreyes as depth. Wade has voiced his displeasure of remaining in AAA ball, and although his Yankee career has been underwhelming, a fresh start on a new squad could give the middle infielder enough room to develop into the player the Bronx brass saw in him. 

Adam Hunger/Getty Images
Heller is a throw in with some MLB experience that could help any team out once he returns from Tommy John surgery. Medina is the big win for Toronto, and it would hurt to give him away. The 19-year-old has plenty of upside with a top-flight fastball and a splitter like changeup that hovers at around 91 MPH, and if he develops better control, he could become a top-end starter down the line.

MLB.com

Happ may be a cheaper than a Bumgarner or deGrom, but Happ is pitching well this year which means the Blue Jays won’t give him up to a division rival for pennies. Both teams make out well, but neither will be happy with what they gave up, which is what a fair deal is.

Happy will provide the Yankees with a good starter who can eat up innings during the regular season, which will allow the bullpen to rest down the stretch. As for the postseason, assuming Masahiro Tanaka returns healthy and productive, Happ will at worst be a good four or five starter, at best a three starter that could put the Bombers over the top and into the World Series.

Stay tuned for more trade possibilities, with the god of thunder himself, Noah Syndergaard!


Article by: Maxx Hotton

Comments

  1. Uhhhmmmm, Luis Medina will not ever be in a trade for JA Happ. Medina as it stands amongst Yankee scouts is are top pitching prospect on the farm. Maybe 3 of the following Wade, Austin, Rogers, Heller, Cessa, etc.... but that trade proposal you posted would be approved so fast by Toronto!

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    Replies
    1. Medina is not the top pitching prospect on the Yankees farm. That would be Abreu or Sheffield. Sheffield Is a top 50 prospect in all of baseball and Abreu is in the top 75. Medina hasn't even gotten out of rookie ball yet. He does have the highest ceiling of any pitcher on the farm but is pretty far from the best pitching prospect. I agree that he seems to be a bit much to give up for someone like Happ but Happ is going to be in high demand at the deadline and Toronto is not going to just give him away. He is probably going to be the best starting pitcher available and it will take a high quality prospect like Medina to secure him. The Yankees window is open now and they are playing for a championship. So, trading a prospect that isn't even going to be close to ready until 2021, no matter how high his ceiling, for a player that is going to help secure a championship this year is justifiable. Even if it is hard to accept.

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