Last night, the Blue Jays signed J.A. Happ to a three-year, $36 million contract to return to Toronto. That takes one option off the board for the Pirates this offseason, as they look to fill the open spot(s) in the back of the rotation.
Happ, who hadn’t posted a seasonal ERA under 4.00 since 2010 and had never had a FIP under 4.00 in his career, wound up pitching to a 3.61 ERA & 3.41 FIP in 2015, thanks in large part to his final 11 starts in Pittsburgh. While he had the benefit of facing some easier NL opponents, two of his better starts (by Game Score, they were his two best) of the year came against the St. Louis Cardinals in the heat of a pennant race. In all, he somehow, someway managed a 1.85 ERA across 63.1 innings, while solidly increasing his strikeout rate (9.81 per nine) and decreasing his walk rate (1.85 per nine). He was dominant.
And, because of it, he got paid.
I’ve seen many fans saying it was too much cash — I don’t disagree, and it seems the Pirates don’t disagree either (I’m guessing they also didn’t agree with the number of years). However, these are the dollars that teams are facing on the open market.