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Report: Twins To Sign LHP J.A. Happ

Several reports from national writers report that the Twins have agreed to terms with veteran left-handed pitcher J.A. Happ.On Wednesday afternoon, the Twins were back in the news, making a second major-league move. The team added a veteran with a lot of experience and a lot of success.



Happ turned 38-years-old in October. 2021 will be his 15th season in the big leagues. In 2020, he went 2-2 with a 3.47 ERA in nine starts for the Yankees. In 49 1/3 innings, he walked 15 and struck out 42 batters. He has had an ERA under 4 in five of the past six seasons.


According to Jon Heyman, the one year deal will be worth $8 million.



The deal leaves the Twins with a rotation consisting of:


Kenta Maeda

Jose Berrios

Michael Pineda

J.A. Happ

Randy Dobnak


Devin Smeltzer and Lewis Thorpe are still in the picture, and Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran and maybe Dakota Chalmers also could see time in 2021.


This shouldn’t come as too big a surprise, as the Twins were interested in Happ the last time he was a free agent. Twins Daily’s Tom Froemming uncovered this interesting bit of information regarding Happ last week:



That information is available on Happ’s Baseball Savant page. Happ ranked third in the league in HR-xHR with 2.9 in 2020 and was second in that stat at 9.3 in 2019. He’ll surely embrace a change of scenery.


Last season, Happ threw his 91 mph fastball 66% of the time, his slider 19% of the time and his changeup 14% of the time. He’ll also mix in a curveball sparingly. Information below also via Baseball Savant.


Download attachment: Screenshot 2021-01-20 at 4.40.30 PM.png



The $8 million deal matches what Toronto signed Robbie Ray for earlier this offseason. MLB Trade Rumors had Happ as their 41st ranked free agent and predicted he'd get a one-year, $6 million deal. FanGraphs had him ranked 45th and their Craig Edwards predicted he'd get this exact deal.


Happ had a $17 million option that would have been triggered had he made 10 starts or pitched 61 1/3 innings last season. The Yankees made sure he only made nine starts, and Happ wasn't too pleased about it.


(Tom Froemming contributed to this article as well)



Where Can the Twins Add the Most Value?

Why Didi Gregorius is the Best Shortstop Fit for the Twins

The 10 Best Twins Targets Among Remaining Free Agents

Free Agent Faceoff: Kiké Hernández vs. Tommy La Stella


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I think this is a solid depth signing. He wasn't bad for the Yankees last year and isn't far removed from being really good. but we'll see how much he has left in the tank. I think  you always need depth in starting pitching, and this helps. price seems about right?

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it's strange to me that $8 million for one year of a left-handed starting pitcher who has had a sub-4 ERA in 5 of the last 6 seasons is an 'overpay', but so many people want to pay Nelson Cruz whatever he wants... 


I like this signing. He's probably the Twins #3. He could be their top guy. Yes, he's 38, but he's not reliant on velocity. If he stays healthy, which he has, I think this is a really solid signing for the Twins. 

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The salary isn't excessive - in a vacuum. My concern is that the Twins are financially limited and shouldn't be committing so much money to a 'depth' signing. 


This would seem to preclude the Twins from really improving this off-season - they have money remaining to sign Cruz OR one of the shortstops, but probably not both. 


I'm not going to declare the off-season a failure because maybe they will spend more than expected, or maybe they will pull of a significant trade or two. But after having been unconcerned as of last week, I'm now pretty worried.

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Not excited by this signing, but two things I see going for it:

1. I had a vague impression of Happ as an older player at the end of the line, but some of the pitch data in this article above and this evaluation by Gleeman make me think there's more there

2. Last offseason, the Twins acquired more starting pitching than it looked like they needed. Some of those acquisitions were meant to raise the ceiling of the rotation and some were aimed more to raise the floor and to make sure there was depth on hand. I wouldn't be surprised if this was the latter kind of move, one that ensures another rotation spot is covered even if they don't get anyone else, but doesn't preclude a bigger addition.

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Solid enough signing - a LH starter with a solid MLB resume. I am good with it. However, if this is the Twins' only SP move then the FO must really have confidence that one or more of Dobnak, Smeltzer, Duran or other youngster can produce. Not sure a team with world series aspirations would trust largely unproven SP to be central to the plan.

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I think it is more prudent to spend money on Happ than Marwin Gonzales. They are only going to spend so much...


Left handers seem to have some struggles with pitching for the Yankees.   For 1 year Paxton would be a better idea. I do believe that Boras is Paxton's agent. Better ideas do not happen very often to his clients. Often times it is a bad idea contract. 4 years of a contract that a healthy Paxton would be worth would be the goal for the agent. That is a bad idea for any team. 

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No longer will we be Happless in the postseason!


He could be an asset. The context, of what else is done in the off-season, will determine whether to say "meh" or "good." It's the kind of signing a cellar-dweller might make while waiting for the next wave of prospects to arrive; or it could be a signing a contender makes to solidify the roster.



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