When the Blue Jays acquired J.A. Happ from the Houston Astros in a massive 10-player swap last year, there was an expectation that he would be a mainstay in the rotation for at least the next two seasons.
Happ appeared in 10 games—including six starts—for the Blue Jays upon his mid-season arrival. In those 10 appearances, he logged 41.0 innings, posting a nondescript 4.69 ERA and 1.29 WHIP while striking out an impressive total of 46 batters.
For all intents and purposes, Happ performed to the level expected of him and looked the part of a solid back-end starter—a role he has dutifully fulfilled since 2008.
When the season ended, Happ was penciled in as the team's fourth starter going into 2013. Showing off a strong strikeout rate and pitching slightly better than he had in Houston the past two seasons, many people were interested in seeing what Happ could do with a full year in the rotation for the Jays.
Unfortunately for Happ, as it appears right now, he will not be in the rotation. Though the Blue Jays probably intended to have him open 2013 in the rotation as last year neared a merciful end, unexpected circumstances arose which have now rendered Happ on the outside looking in.
In a shocking-but-not-so-shocking turn of events, the Marlins decided to have a fire sale one off-season after being major players in free agency. Though it wasn't likely in the Blue Jays' plans prior to the 2012 season ending, the team seized the opportunity to add a group of veterans that included starting pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle.
Bolstered by this sudden injection of quality pitching, the Blue Jays took fixing their rotation problems one step further, acquiring 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner, R.A. Dickey, from the Mets.
The Blue Jays gave up an impressive haul of young talent to acquire three quality veteran starters and have gone all-in for 2013. It's great news for most of the team's holdovers from 2012, but perhaps not for J.A. Happ.
With the additions of Johnson, Buehrle, and Dickey joining returning starters, Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero, the Blue Jays now have a complete five-man rotation sans J.A. Happ, who still remains on the Blue Jays' roster.
Despite the fact that Happ is seemingly without a place in the rotation (or perhaps on the major-league roster, for that matter), the sides have handled the issue amicably thus far and there has been no request for a trade by Happ, according to Gregory Chisholm of MLB.com.
As a matter of fact, the Jays and Happ just avoided arbitration by agreeing to a new one-year contract worth $3.7 million.
Now that Happ is currently under contract for 2013, the Blue Jays have to make a decision on what to do with him for the upcoming season. They appear to have three main options: They can send him down to the minors where he can remain a starter in AAA, they can let him stick with the major league club as a long reliever, or they can trade him to another team.
This article will examine the three possibilities and weigh the pros and cons of each option the Blue Jays have regarding Happ's future. Finally, I'll try to make a prediction on what ultimately is J.A. Happ's fate for the 2013 season.