It’s time to cross one name off the free agent wish list (for now).
According to The Athletic‘s Matt Gelb, the Phillies expect starting pitcher J.A. Happ to sign elsewhere in the coming weeks. This report comes a couple days after The Athletic‘s Jayson Stark had reported that had been “ongoing dialogue” between the two parties.
The reason for the Phillies presuming Happ will land elsewhere is because of their hesitation to give Happ a three-year deal, instead staying at two years. Happ has been seeking a three-year deal since the start of free agency
The 36-year-old Happ went 17-8 with a 3.65 ERA, 3.98 FIP, 9.8 SO/9 and a 2.1 bWAR in 2018 with the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees, in addition to becoming an All-Star for the first time in his career. Over the course of 12 years, Happ has a record of 109-82 with a 3.90 ERA, with 47 of those wins coming since 2016.
Earlier this morning, it was reported by The Athletic‘s Ken Rosenthal that a deal had been reached between Happ and the New York Yankees. However, that reported was later taken back by Rosenthal, saying there had been no agreement in place. The New York Post’s Joel Sherman tweeted afterward that the two sides were coming “near the finish line” in terms of a contract.
Regardless of where Happ signs, the fact that the Phillies would not go for a third deal should give some idea of how general manager Matt Klentak is operating. This is the second time this offseason that the team has hesitated to add on an extra year to a possible contract, with the first being the refusal to add a sixth year to Patrick Corbin’s deal.
At the same time, it’s easy to see why the Phillies would be uneasy of adding a third year to Happ’s deal. By the time the last year of Happ’s contract would come around, the pitcher would be 38 years old. And with more impressive free agent classes to come in the following years, it’s important to keep the future in mind.
Where do the Phillies go from here? Charlie Morton is still unsigned. The 35-year-old has had similar numbers to Happ, and it has been reported Morton would prefer to go to an East Coast team. Dallas Keuchel is also an option, although he would come at a much larger price tag.