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Former Phillie J.A. Happ signs with Twins


The Philadelphia Phillies are searching for starting pitching depth, but it won’t come in the form of J.A. Happ.

J.A. Happ began his career with the Phillies. (Brian Garfinkel/Icon Sportswire)

Happ, who spent parts of four seasons with the Phillies, has reached a one-year deal to join the two-time defending American League Central Champion Minnesota Twins, per ESPN‘s Jeff Passan. Jon Heyman of MLB Network says that the deal is worth $8 million. The deal being finalized is contingent on Happ passing a physical.

The Phillies had representation at the joint showcase of veteran starters Aníbal Sánchez and Julio Teherán Tuesday, according to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. But even as they ponder another addition to a starting rotation that lacks a ton of certainty after Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Zach Eflin, no evidence has emerged to this point that the Phillies pursued a reunion with Happ this winter.

Ahead of the 2018 season, the Phillies did attempt to lure Happ back to Philadelphia, and it appeared briefly that they would be successful in that effort. Ultimately, though, Happ returned to the New York Yankees on a two-year/$34 million deal.

After being an All-Star in a 2018 season that he split with the Toronto Blue Jays and Yankees, Happ struggled mightily in 2019, posting a 4.91 ERA and 5.22 FIP across 161 1/3 innings for the Yankees. That said, he rebounded nicely in 2019, posting a 3.47 ERA in nine starts. However, Happ’s 4.57 FIP this past season suggests that he would have regressed to some degree over the course of a full season. The Yankees seemingly agreed with that assessment, as they declined a $17 million option to bring him back for 2021.

Now 38, Happ has a 123-92 career record, with a 3.98 ERA, 4.22 FIP and a 21.3 fWAR in 1,741 1/3 career innings. A third-round pick by the Phillies in the 2004 MLB Draft, Happ finished as the runner-up to Florida Marlins outfielder Chris Coghlan in National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2009. The next summer, he was traded to the Houston Astros in the deal that allowed the Phillies to acquire Roy Oswalt.

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