There it was. The push notification I’d been waiting for: Twins Free Agency Alert from ESPN.
And then I opened it: A one-year, $8 million deal with pitcher J.A. Happ, pending physical.
The Twins did what the Twins of yore always did best: They picked up a mid-to-upper 30’s arm that’s mostly used up by the <insert big market team here>, and hope there’s a bit of gas left in the ol’ tank.
This was not the splash I’d hoped the Twins would make during this really frigid Hot Stove season. Last week I was still a bright-eyed and optimistic ball of excitement when daydreaming about what the Twins in 2021 would look like. And while realistically I know that they are very unlikely to land the likes of a Trevor Bauer or the-now-claimed-by-the-Yankees Corey Kluber, I’d like to at least see someone with a little less mileage and a little less ERA. Happ is 38 years old and has played in the bigs for 14 years. Of those years, his best was probably in 2018 when he was an All Star, going 17-6 split between the Blue Jays and Yankees. But does he still have the stuff?
And then the more I look into his stats and compare him with the said likes of Trevor Bauer or Corey Kluber, the more I’m like ok then, maybe I can get behind this trade. Let me try to bring some of that optimism back:
- First of all, I’m a smidge older than Happ and at what point did I decide that 38 is old? I’m being ageist and dumb. I ran my last half marathon when I was around that age, and it’s not like I was sitting in a rocking chair staring out the window with my crochet, watching the Golden Girls. Ok I was doing that because I love to crochet and watching the Golden Girls, but I can also still physically kick ass, so I can stop using his age as a reason to hate on the deal. Also I don’t have a rocking chair.
- Happ silenced the Bomba Squad in the 2019 ALDS. Granted, the Bomba Squad rolled over and died in that ALDS (and pretty much every ALDS they’ve played in the last two decades), but that Twins team was REALLY good and he shut them down. Bonus? He can’t silence the Twins in the 2021 post season, so yay! (Let’s try to ignore him giving up 4 home runs to the Rays in game 2 of the ALDS in 2020.)
- I’ve been proven wrong in the past when I’ve griped about mid-to-late-30’s players getting signed by the Twins. Remember Carl Pavano? I was super underwhelmed when the Twins acquired Pav-stache, but then he turned out to be the workhorse that we needed him to be and I ate my words. 2010 was a fantastic season, and Pavano was the veteran ace that went 17-11 that year. Or oh my God, look at Bartolo Colon! Big Sexy was 44 when he was in Minnesota, and while his numbers don’t show it, he really turned it around toward the end of his time here.
I tried to come up with a few more reasons to be excited. I really did. But for each thing that goes into the pros list, something balances it out on the cons list. He gets a lot of strikeouts.. But he also gives up a lot of runs - things like that. Maybe I’m just not excited to be getting the leftovers from the Yankees after he’s coming off of a lackluster year. Maybe I’m not that excited that it’s not a statement signing.
Or maybe, just maybe, this is a genius signing by Falvey and Lavine. Maybe his lackluster 2020 was a response to his displeasure with last season and he’s looking to screw the Yankees after they screwed him out of his $17 million option? Maybe he’s out for blood and is going to win the Cy Young this year and take us to the World Series behind Kenta Maeda. Maybe this is a secret statement signing and we just don’t know it yet, and we only had to pay half of what he should have made this year.
I guess time will tell. Welcome to Minnesota, Mr. Happ: The land of 10,000 lakes and a bunch of fans that really want you to stick it to your former team. Don’t let us down.