MLB Free Agents 2018: Latest Rumors for Bryce Harper, J.A. Happ, More

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 6, 2018

New York Yankees starting pitcher J.A. Happ prepares to throw to the Boston Red Sox during the first inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

With Patrick Corbin off the market after signing a six-year, $140 million deal with the Washington Nationals and Nathan Eovaldi reportedly heading back to Boston, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, things could start to heat up for the rest of the pitching market.

For teams seeking a starter who missed out on Corbin and Eovaldi, veteran lefties Dallas Keuchel and J.A. Happ are appealing fallback options.

Meanwhile, the two big fishBryce Harper and Manny Machado—are also still available.

Here's a look at the latest from the rumor mill.

     

Yankees Shifting Focus to J.A. Happ

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 23:  Pitcher J.A. Happ #34 of the New York Yankees pitches in an MLB baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles on September 23, 2018 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Orioles won 6-3. (Photo by Paul Beresw
Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

The Yankees had long been viewed as the favorites to sign Corbin, and while they reportedly offered up a five-year, $100 million deal, that wasn't enough to land him in the end.

What now?

Happ, 36, has always looked like a logical fallback plan for the Yankees after an excellent late-season run with the team following a trade with the Blue Jays.

In 11 starts in pinstripes, Happ went 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 63 strikeouts in 63.2 innings.

With a hole to fill in a rotation that currently features Luis Severino, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia, it's clear the Yankees need to add someone.

Prediction: Happ signs a three-year, $42 million deal with the Yankees

     

Phillies Also Focusing on J.A. Happ, Dallas Keuchel

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 16:  Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Houston Astros pitches in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox during Game Three of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 16, 2018 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by B
Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Yankees were not the only team with serious interest in Corbin who whiffed, as the Phillies were also hot on his trail before he signed with the division-rival Nationals.

And like the Yankees, it appears the Phillies are looking at Happ.

"The Phillies are expected to turn their focus to free-agent left-hander J.A. Happ, sources told MLB.com," wrote Todd Zolecki.

The left-hander would be an excellent fit between righties Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta at the top of the rotation, though he's not the team's only option from the left side.

"The Phillies have other options, if needed. They have expressed interest in Japanese free-agent left-hander Yusei Kikuchi. D-backs left-hander Robbie Ray could be available in a trade. Free-agent left-hander Dallas Keuchel remains on the market," wrote Zolecki.

There has indeed been confirmed interest in Keuchel.

That said, it sounds like the focus is on Happ at the moment, and that makes sense with the Yankees also after him.

Prediction: Happ signs with Yankees, Phillies turn their attention to the trade market

     

Nationals Not Ruling Out Bryce Harper Reunion

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 30:  Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals hits a ninth inning double against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 30, 2018 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Spending $140 million on Corbin would appear at first glance to take the Washington Nationals out of the running to re-sign superstar Bryce Harper.

Not so fast.

It remains to be seen what "structured to their liking" means, though they may speculatively prefer a shorter deal than the 10-year pact he's said to be seeking.

At any rate, it sounds like there's at least still a chance of Harper suiting up for the Nationals once again.

It will all depend on which teams get seriously involved and what kind of money is in play.

Prediction: Harper signs with the Dodgers during the winter meetings

     

All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted.

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