Yankees Rumors: NY 'Actively Looking' to Trade JA Happ Amid Gerrit Cole Pursuit

Megan ArmstrongAnalyst IIIDecember 10, 2019

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 04:   (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT)   J.A. Happ #34 of the New York Yankees in action against the Minnesota Twins in game one of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium on October 04, 2019 in New York City. The Yankees defeated the Twins 10-4.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The New York Yankees are all-in on their pursuit of free-agent ace Gerrit Cole, and starting pitcher J.A. Happ could soon feel the residual effects.

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Yankees have been "actively looking to trade Happ" to "potentially fit Gerrit Cole more comfortably into their payroll."

Sherman had reported Nov. 19 that the Yankees would try to trade Happ to clear salary and make their bid for Cole more manageable.

Happ is owed $17 million next season and in 2021, when he has a vesting option, per Spotrac. The 37-year-old left-hander went 12-8 with a 4.91 ERA across 30 starts and one relief appearance in 2019.

On Monday, MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was prepared to offer Cole a contract.

Bob Klapisch of the New York Times reported Sunday the Yankees offered Cole a seven-year, $245 million deal. Cole's price tag is expected to be influenced by reigning World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg's re-signing with the Washington Nationals on Monday for what ESPN's Jeff Passan reported was a seven-year, $245 million contract.

Jeff Passan @JeffPassan

Still awed by the Stephen Strasburg deal, which was first reported as done by @JonHeyman. It’s a staggering number — $245M. The question isn’t whether Gerrit Cole gets eight years. That’s a given. Signing him through age 37, like the Nationals did, would take a nine-year deal.

Jack Curry @JackCurryYES

Cashman has landed in San Diego and is expected to make an offer to Cole today. With @JeffPassan saying Strasburg got 7/245 from Nats, have to believe Cole gets 8 years. Yanks saying they will make “very, very competitive offer.”

Bleacher Report MLB @BR_MLB

Gerrit Cole’s contract is now expected to exceed $300M, per @Joelsherman1 https://t.co/ozGq60grI1

Passan reported Thursday that adding Cole was the Yankees' "clear offseason priority" and that the club has "ownership-level approval to offer him a record-setting deal."

Cole used his 2019 campaign with the Houston Astros to stockpile leverage. The 29-year-old right-hander led MLB with 326 strikeouts and set a record with 13.8 strikeouts per nine innings. He recorded an American League-best 2.50 ERA and posted a career-high 20 wins, going 20-5 across 33 starts. His 212.1 innings also marked the most he has tossed in a season.

Should the Yankees close the deal, it will be a union long in the making. New York selected Cole in the first round of the 2008 draft. However, the now-three-time All-Star opted not to sign and instead pitched collegiately at UCLA.

The Yankees also reportedly tried to trade for Cole in 2017 before he landed with the Astros in January 2018.