The Minnesota Twins have made another move, this time bringing aboard back-end starting pitching depth for a team that sorely needed it. The team signed J.A. Happ to a one-year, $8 million deal yesterday, per Jeff Passan:
As with every Twins move, most recently the Hansel Robles signing, we break down the deal and grade the Twins for the player they signed. We’ll start off with how Happ fits, then talk about what he brings and if the deal was worth it.
As our contributor Theodore Tollefson wrote about, the Twins likely are adding Happ with the expectation that he be a fourth or fifth starter, play consistent innings, and help this team out in what should be a very close division fight between the White Sox and Twins.
Happ, who didn’t exhaust his rookie limits until he was 26, is now 38, so no one should look at this signing and think he will return to his 2016 peak. With that being said, you know what you’re getting in Happ: consistency.
Happ has made at least 25 starts, pitched 140 innings, and struck out 130 batters in nine of the past eleven seasons (2020 excluded). That’s remarkable consistency, and if the Twins can get him to anything close to that, he’s a great fifth guy.
In addition, he’s moving to a really good spot for pitchers in Minnesota. The Twins have a solid defense when healthy, as Josh Donaldson, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Ryan Jeffers, and Mitch Garver are all plus defenders. That doesn’t even account for him escaping the hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium for the friendly confines of Target Field. He’ll have a solid year.
As far as money goes, $8 million is about right. He’s getting less than most pitchers are this offseason, despite him having a better track record of success. He isn’t getting any younger, which led to his availability, but it’s hard to really fault this move.
We knew the Twins would go after cheaper guys to fill out the back of their rotation, just like they did last year with Homer Bailey ($7 million) and Rich Hill ($3 million). Happ is better than both of those guys.
The best part of this move is Happ has been in the playoffs. A lot:
To break the 18-game playoff losing streak, you need players like Happ on the back of your roster, encouraging a Twins core that has struggled on the biggest stage. He’s a World Series champion. This move helps.
As easy as it is to hate on the move for not being big enough for the fans, this is a really good move. If he stays healthy, which seems highly likely despite his age, the Twins added a really good back of the rotation guy.