Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

toronto blue jays logoWe wondered earlier if the Blue Jays were out on David Price, despite what may have been his wishes, and sure enough, it looks like they are. Toronto just announced that they’ve signed lefty J.A. Happ to a three-year, $36 million contract.

To be sure, Happ not an approximation of Price, and his signing doesn’t preclude the Jays going after Price in that respect; it’s just that, with Happ in the fold, and with Marco Estrada already re-signed, the Jays are probably all set for spending in their rotation this offseason (or at least, are extremely unlikely to splurge now on a huge contract).

Happ, 33, pitched for two years in the Blue Jays’ organization in 2013 and 2014, and he was mostly meh. They traded him to the Mariners, who then traded him to the Pirates midseason, and he took off in the second half of 2015. Clearly, the Blue Jays are betting – heavily – that the Pirates fixed him. I’m not sure I like that bet, but I also didn’t like the prospect of the Pirates getting Happ back on the cheap. So this is fine by me.

As for the market context of the move … holy crap that’s a lot of money for a 33-year-old career 5th starter coming off one half of a good season. Then again, the FanGraphs crowd had Happ at three years and $33 million, so there’s only $1 million of AAV difference there. (Jon Heyman had Happ at two years and $25 million, which is a slightly higher AAV than Happ actually got … so maybe I’m the real outlier here.)

Happ is the first second tier (or above) free agent starter to sign so far this offseason, unless you count Estrada. Which is to say: clearly, the Blue Jays wanted to lock down their second tier options early this offseason. We’ll see if it starts the ball rolling.

Given this signing, by the way, and the indication of the market, are people really still going to balk at the Cubs landing someone like John Lackey on a similar contract?

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