The Toronto Blue Jays will have a familiar face both in the clubhouse and on the bump in 2016, as the team has agreed to terms on a three-year, $36 million contract with free agent left-hander J.A. Happ, according to a club announcement on Friday evening.
According to Sportsnet's Shi Davidi, Happ is set to receive $10 million in 2016 and $13 million for the following two seasons of the deal.
This signing is one that reflects upon the past, as Happ was a member of the team from the 2012 season to the 2014 season after being acquired from the Houston Astros in a 10-player deal alongside reliever Brandon Lyon, in exchange for closer Francisco Cordero and outfielder Ben Francisco. As a roster move was needed on the Blue Jays end of things, outfielder Travis Snider was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas.
Toronto brings back a pitcher who was traded away to the Seattle Mariners last winter as the club brought Canadian outfielder Michael Saunders north of the border to play on local soil after much interest in the 29-year-old was shown.
Happ started 2015 at the big league stage with the Mariners where things quickly fell apart for the 32-year-old lefty, as he posted a 4.64 ERA in 21 total outings. He was later to traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates who sent him down to their Triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis. This transaction occurred at the trade deadline where he threw 63 1/3 innings pitched while allowing just 13 earned runs, three home runs, and 13 walks alongside 69 strikeouts.
As the club struggles to put together a starting rotation for the upcoming season, this move likely puts RHP Drew Hutchison in the position of which he will be sent down to the Buffalo Bisons to start, as manager John Gibbons will look after the five men who will start throughout 2016. Those pitchers will consist of RHP R.A. Dickey, RHP Marco Estrada, RHP Marcus Stroman and RHP Jesse Chavez.
Chavez was acquired from the Oakland Athletics last week in a trade that sent RHP Liam Hendricks the other way. At this time, it is unknown whether veteran LHP Mark Buehrle will retire or take on one final season where he could return to Toronto or sign with another team that might have interest.
This comes as the club's first major move under the wing of interim general manager Tony LaCava since taking over duties for Alex Anthopoulos, who decided to walk away from the organization after rejecting a five-year contract extension offer.
During his tenure with the Blue Jays, Happ had pitched with an ERA of 4.39 alongside a record of 19-20 in 291.0 innings pitched. Looking over his nine-year playing career, he has posted a 4.13 ERA to go with a 62-61 record in a total of 1,012.2 innings pitched.