The Milwaukee Brewers may be the team that’s most interested in Sonny Gray, but the Brewers aren’t limiting themselves to only pursuing the Oakland ace.
According to Ken Rosenthal, the Brewers are considering another another starter to bolster their starting rotation — Toronto lefty J.A. Happ.
#BlueJays plan to compete in ’18; Happ under contract for $13M. Interest in him stems in part from lack of quality SP in upcoming FA class.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 16, 2017
Happ would be a much different kind of acquisition for the Brewers than Gray, to say the least. While he is still under team control for another year beyond 2017, he’s 34 and would solidify the back of the rotation, rather than giving the Brewers a true front-line starter.
Happ has rejuvenated his career north of the border. In 32 starts with the Jays last year, Happ had a 3.18 ERA/3.96 FIP, finishing 6th in the AL Cy Young voting. In 2017, he’s put up a 3.54 ERA in/4.42 FIP in 11 starts, which is probably what you could expect going forward (and isn’t bad for a 4th or 5th starter these days).
Happ’s strikeouts are up over last year’s rates, but opponents are also banging out more hits against him this year. A lot of that has to do with his BABIP normalizing to .284 this year. The rise in ERA can also be attributed to his HR/FB rate jumping from 11.1% to 18.5% this year.
While Rosenthal says it’s unlikely Happ is dealt (presumably unless the Jays get overwhelmed in an offer), if he is traded to the Brewers, it wouldn’t be the first time he’s been a midseason addition for an NL Central contender. He was traded from Seattle to Pittsburgh in 2015, where he went on to make 11 starts and put up a Sabathian 1.85 ERA/2.19 FIP, striking out 69 batters in 63.1 innings.
Given Toronto’s reluctance to trade him, it may not make sense for the Brewers to continue to chase Happ, or risk giving up too much for a thoroughly average pitcher just to get the Blue Jays to listen. Still, news like this shows a willingness from the Brewers’ front office to consider a wide variety of options — and may show some kind of a trade in the next couple weeks is more likely than not.
Statistics courtesy Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs