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Heyman | Surprise pitcher among most desirable trade candidates

Jon Heyman

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USA Today Sports

The Toronto Blue Jays weren’t necessarily expected to be a seller.

And they didn’t possess any veteran starters who were expected to be major players on the trade market this year, either.

But things change, and the underrated, under-the-radar left-hander J.A. Happ just might be among the most coveted available pitchers – if not the most coveted among pitchers who look likely to be traded.

Chris Archer, Cole Hamels and Danny Duffy drew the early headlines, as they are “name-brand” pitchers on teams that seemed likely to have a chance to be a non-contender. But while Happ isn’t as well known, and his Jays are probably better than the teams of those three pitchers, by virtue of solid pitching, a logical contract and the Jays’ standing as a team that’s on the cusp of an early burial due to their position in MLB’s toughest division, Happ may turn out to be the best of the lot to go.

Archer has been on the block seemingly forever, long enough that you have to wonder whether the Rays are motivated to make a move. Hamels is hurt by a high salary and a dip in velocity. And Duffy, while better lately, has had an unusually bad first half.

Patrick Corbin was trumpeted here last week as a possibility for the trade market, but the Diamondbacks, whose half has been marked by wild swings, are on the upswing – and suddenly back in first place, making him an unlikely trade candidate.

Happ, meanwhile, has been the best pitcher in a startlingly disappointing rotation, and has numbers to satisfy both old-school (he’s 7-3) and new school (87 strikeouts, 3.47 FIP), which might make him in some ways the most desirable of a generally uninspiring lot.

Archer still wins on talent, and Hamels on résumé. But for the moment, Happ looks darned good. Besides his performance, his status as a free-agent-to-be with a reasonable contract ($11 million) will be seen as yet another selling point.

Jon Heyman is an MLB Insider for FanRag Sports, featuring breaking news, information and his Inside Baseball column, which appears on FanRagSports.com every Thursday. Heyman also has been an insider at MLB Network since the channel launched in 2009 and is a regular contributor to WFAN in New York, where he appears weekly on the Joe and Evan Show and previously appeared on the Mike and the Mad Dog Show. He also appears on WSCR in Chicago, WBZ-FM in Boston and the Petros and Money Show on Fox in Los Angeles. Heyman comes to FanRag Sports from CBSSports.com, where he worked for five years and wrote the popular Inside Baseball notes column. Before going to CBS, Heyman worked for five years at Sports Illustrated and SI.com, where he was a senior writer and started an Inside Baseball Column. Heyman worked for 16 years at Newsday in New York, where he was the Yankees beat writer, a baseball columnist and finally a general sports columnist. Heyman started his career at the Moline (Ill.) Daily Dispatch, then moved to the Los Angeles Copley Newspapers (Torrance Daily Breeze and Santa Monica Outlook) before going to Newsday. Heyman at one time also served as a national baseball writer for The Sporting News. Heyman is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. The Santa Fe, N.M. native grew up in Cedarhurst, N.Y., on Long Island.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. rschutzpah

    June 7, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    I keep wondering why Matthew Boyd is not mentioned as a trade candidate anywhere. Cheap cost controlled starter lefty playing very well this year. In his prime right now being 27 and would be cheaper than say a Michael Fulmer. Plus I don’t see him around when Tigers start contending again as he will be in his 30’s by then.

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