Red Sox Rumors: J.A. Happ Drawing Interest from BOS in 2020 Free Agency

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistNovember 23, 2020

New York Yankees pitcher J.A. Happ throws against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fourth inning in Game 2 of a baseball American League Division Series Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

The Boston Red Sox are reportedly "showing interest" in veteran starter J.A. Happ, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network. 

As Morosi noted, the southpaw has proved to be pretty comfortable in Boston when he's pitched there: "Happ, 38, has thrown more innings at Fenway [66.2] than any ballpark he has not called home—and he has a 2.57 ERA in his career there."

Boston won't be alone in its reported pursuit of Happ, as Morosi previously noted:

Jon Morosi @jonmorosi

Source: #Angels among the teams interested in free agent LHP J.A. Happ, and we shouldn’t be surprised. Perry Minasian was working in the #BlueJays front office when Toronto acquired Happ on two different occasions. @MLBNetwork @MLB

Jon Morosi @jonmorosi

Sources: #Rangers among the teams showing interest in free agent J.A. Happ, who posted the best ERA of any #Yankees starter this year other than Gerrit Cole. @MLBNetwork @MLB

Jon Morosi @jonmorosi

Sources: #BlueJays interested in free agent LHP J.A. Happ, who had two prior tenures with the club: 2012-2014 and 2016-2018. Happ, 38, ranked fourth in ERA+ this year among free-agent pitchers who threw at least 40 IP. @MLB @MLBNetwork

Happ went 2-2 for Boston's hated rivals, the New York Yankees, in 2020, finishing with a 3.47 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 42 strikeouts in 49.1 innings (nine starts). He made just one relief appearance for the team in the postseason, however, giving up four runs in 2.2 innings. 

The Yankees declined Happ's $17 million option for the 2021 season, which also would have vested had he made 10 starts or 61.1 innings. Happ wasn't thrilled that he wasn't able to hit either of those benchmarks.

"I think you guys are smart enough," Happ told reporters in August when asked about his limited usage by the Yankees during the season, essentially implying the team was manipulating his workload to keep his option from vesting. "I'll let you guys answer that. I think it's fairly clear."

General manager Brian Cashman pushed back against that narrative.

"Under the most recent circumstance where [Happ] obviously publicly complained ... He had a poor season last year, and he's gotten out of the gate not very successful for us this year," he said, per Randy Miller for NJ.com. "Ultimately, Aaron Boone and [pitching coach] Matt Blake on the pitching side [make the call on starts and innings]."

All of this is to say that a reunion between Happ and the Yankees isn't going to happen. Enter the Red Sox, who could use an upgrade in the rotation after injuries and inexperience hampered the starting pitchers in 2020 en route to a 5.58 team ERA (28th in MLB), 1.60 team WHIP (30th) and .281 batting average against (30th). 

In turn, the Red Sox finished 24-36. Upgrading the rotation is Boston's major priority this offseason.