This summer's trade market for starting pitching may be one of the weakest in recent memory, but the New York Yankees, in danger of falling out of reach of the rival Boston Red Sox in the American League East, were not in position to be picky.
"We definitely satisfied some needs here", NY general manager Brian Cashman said. NY started the day 5 1/2 games behind Boston in the American League East Division but are well in front of the rest of the league for the first wild-card spot. They were just 14-14 in their previous 28 games. Most recently, in 2016 - the same season he went 20-4 with a 3.18 ERA and finished sixth in Cy Young voting - he made a pair of playoff starts for the Blue Jays, winning one and losing one. NY has good team stats across the rotation, but there are questions after No. 1 starter Luis Severino.
What does J.A. Happ bring to the Yankees? "We felt when we returned him back to third, we could get him back in the comfort level he was and he could unlock some of the potential in the swing because there were some things we saw that we felt allowed for more in the tank in terms of production".
"He was on the wish list", Cashman said.
Happ has made 10 career postseason appearances (three starts), going 1-1 with a 3.72 ERA (19.1 IP, 8 ER).
"So that's part of the resume but you're also looking at the talent and what you think you're getting".
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Happ has a US$13 million salary in the final season of a $36 million, three-year contract, and the Yankees are responsible for the remaining $4,543,011.
Reliever Zach Britton reported to the Yankees on Thursday, two days after he was acquired for prospects. The Yankees didn't necessarily need help at the back end of games, with their bullpen leading the major leagues with a 2.76 ERA even before Britton showed up.
NY began the season with a $179 million payroll for purposes of the luxury tax, which left the team room to add salaries and remain under the $197 million threshold. Despite setting career bests in strikeouts and ERA a year ago, the right-hander struggled mightily earlier this season. Third baseman Brandon Drury and outfield prospect Billy McKinney lead to Toronto. He's done an admirable job with the Blue Jays this season, hitting 17 home runs in 98 games, but Solarte fell into a swoon since his early-season tear in April and May.
"Definitely not what I expected the season to be like as a Yankee", he said. "We'll have opportunities for guys to play, there's no doubt about that".
"This is a big leaguer", Boone said.
McKinney has played two games for the Yankees, filling in on March 30-31 because of injuries to other outfielders. The 23 year-old has hit.230 with 13 homers, and 35 RBIs through 62 games between Single A, Double A, Triple A, and two games in the majors. The 23-year-old was a first-round pick of the Oakland A's in 2013. The Yankees are attempting to shore up their starting rotation to push for the division title and avoid the one-game crapshoot of the wild-card game.