NEW YORK (AP) – Now that he’s staying with the New York Yankees, J.A. Happ would like to see Manny Machado join him in the Bronx.
“You get any kind of player like that on a team, that would be exciting,” the pitcher said Thursday, three days after finalizing a $34 million, two-year contract.
Machado, one of the top free agents along with Bryce Harper this offseason, visited the Yankees on Wednesday. New York’s level of interest in is unclear, though the Yankees say they hope to add an infielder while shortstop Didi Gregorius recovers from Tommy John surgery.
Pitching was a priority, and the Yankees tacked to Happ after failing to sign free agent Patrick Corbin.
A first-time All-Star, Happ was acquired from Toronto on July 26 as a summer rental and went 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA in 11 starts for New York. He finished 17-6 with a 3.65 ERA for the season. He lost at Boston in the AL Division Series opener, allowing five runs in two innings – including J.D. Martinez’s three-run homer in the first.
“The body of work is maybe more indicative of the type of player you are. I certainly don’t mean to downplay the importance of the playoff game,” Happ said. “J.D. Martinez hit a pitch that not a lot of guys hit.”
Happ, a 36-year-old left-hander, gets $17 million in each of the next two seasons. His deal includes a $17 million option for 2021 that could become guaranteed if he has either 27 or more starts as a pitcher in 2020 or 165 or more innings that year.
He’s s projected to be part of a rotation that includes Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia. The one newcomer is James Paxton, acquired from Seattle in a Nov. 19 trade.
“He’s going to be exciting,” Happ said. “I think New York’s going to fall in love with him.”
When asked which teammates impressed him in New York, Happ mentioned Sabathia, Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge.
“CC Sabathia was a guy that I always wondered about and everybody raves about, and I saw from the other side kind of the competitiveness he brought,” Happ said. “He was everything and more that people talked him up to be, a star as far as a teammate and a person. So it was awesome to get to know him and he sent me a message right away, which I certainly appreciate.”
Happ and Judge became travel buddies on flights.
“What a great head on that guy’s shoulder,” Happ said. “He’s going to be a superstar for a long time.”
Happ also was impressed by players’ attitudes, “just feeling the vibe of that clubhouse and sort of the veteran leadership that it has, as well as a lot of very talented young players who are playing the game the right way and putting in the work and anxious to get better.”
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