Pitcher Suggests Yankees Sidelined Him to Skirt Vesting Contract Option

Dan Mennella
August 25, 2020 - 9:10 pm
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Yankees pitcher J.A. Happ had made just three appearances a month into MLB's shortened season -- and according to him it was more than just his 6.39 ERA keeping him on the pine.

The 38-year-old left-hander's vesting contract option for 2021 -- at a nifty $17M price tag -- has been the subject of much speculation among Yankees fans and media recently.

Happ needs benchmarks of 10 starts or 61 1/3 innings for the third year to kick in on the contract he signed with the Yankees prior to the 2019 season. Instead, he has scarcely been seen since a pair of early-season duds.

Happ on Tuesday suggested the Yankees were limiting his usage to ensure his departure at season's end, according to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com.

"It actually doesn't take too much to figure out sort of what could be going on," Happ said. "I think I can help our team. I'd like to be out there every five days."

While it's hard to disagree with Happ's assessment, it'd be hard to blame the Yankees for wanting out. The veteran southpaw has disappointed after re-signing as a free agent following his midseason acquisition via trade in 2018. In 174 innings over the past two seasons, Happ has posted a unsightly 5.02 ERA while allowing 38 home runs.

Even a sharper performance in his most recent outing, against the Red Sox on Aug. 16, was enough to keep him from having his rotation spot bumped back when the opportunity presented itself due to the postponement of the Yankees' weekend series against the Mets.