Report: Happ Close to Returning to Phillies
There are three active players in the major leagues from the 2008 Phillies World Championship team. One is Cole Hamels, whose option was picked up by the Chicago Cubs. Another is Ryan Madson, who pitched in the 2018 World Series and is a free agent. And then there is J.A. Happ, who debuted for the Phillies in 2007 and cracked the 2008 Postseason roster. One of them may be coming home.
According to George A. King of the New York Post, the Phillies and Happ are close to a reunion:
“They are bringing it,’’ a talent evaluator from the AL East said of the Phillies’ interest in the 36-year-old lefty free agent whom the Yankees have been talking about bringing back to The Bronx.
A person with knowledge of the situation used the phrase “getting closer’’ to describe the discussions between Happ and the Phillies.
Of course, with no deal in place, things could change.
Happ is a well-beloved player for literally every organization he played with. The Phillies traded Happ to the Houston Astros as part of the Roy Oswalt deal, and the Astros were reportedly interested in Happ. After Houston, Happ went to Toronto during the 2012 season and stayed through the 2014 season.
After a trade to Seattle before the 2015 season, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded for Happ and he seemed to really hit his stride, going 7-2 with a 1.85 earned run average for the Pirates.
Then, Happ returned to Toronto on a three-year deal. Happ became a 20-game winner for the Blue Jays in 2016, posting a 3.26 earned run average. Happ continued to pitch very well for the Blue Jays through the 2018 season, but the rebuilding club traded him to the New York Yankees in July.
The Blue Jays were interested in signing Happ again this offseason. So were the Yankees who just had Happ down the stretch. (The Mariners were too, this past season). So everyone who had Happ in their organization was interested in bringing him back.
What he could bring to the Phillies is a reliable left-handed arm that will not blow up, nor will he be totally dominant. He does not rely on velocity, so losing some is not a concern. Think Jamie Moyer around the time the Phillies traded for him in 2006 and signed him to an extension.
Happ can help the Phillies. Will he do so even in year three? That remains to be seen. But the Phillies are looking for a boost and Happ could fill it.