Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Happ earns long-awaited All-Star nod

MLB.com @gregorMLB

TORONTO -- J.A. Happ proved it's never too late to experience a first after he was named to the American League All-Star team on Sunday.

Happ has been one of the more reliable pitchers in baseball over the past several years. He has been around the Major Leagues for 12 seasons and has pitched for five organizations, but until Sunday, he had never received the nod for the Midsummer Classic.

TORONTO -- J.A. Happ proved it's never too late to experience a first after he was named to the American League All-Star team on Sunday.

Happ has been one of the more reliable pitchers in baseball over the past several years. He has been around the Major Leagues for 12 seasons and has pitched for five organizations, but until Sunday, he had never received the nod for the Midsummer Classic.

The 35-year-old will be the Blue Jays' lone representative at the game, which is set to take place at Nationals Park in Washington on July 17. Happ is tied for fifth in the AL with 10 wins and is 11th with 115 strikeouts, and despite a couple of recent rough starts, he easily has been Toronto's most valuable pitcher in 2018.

:: Complete All-Star Game coverage ::

"Really, there's no other way to describe it than it's a dream come true," Happ said. "I was a big baseball card collector as a kid. I always collected all of the All-Star cards, and it was kind of a surreal moment today when I found out. I certainly was hoping there was a chance, but it's just a dream come true."

Happ's All-Star nod comes at a time when it would appear as though his Blue Jays tenure is on the verge of coming to an end. He is expected to be one of the top starting pitchers available at this year's non-waiver Trade Deadline, and there has been no shortage of reported suitors.

The Yankees, Cubs, Brewers and Mariners are just a few of the teams that have been linked to Happ in recent weeks. Toronto clearly intends on being a seller later this month, and with Josh Donaldson on the disabled list, Happ is the Blue Jays' top trade chip. The question isn't if the pending free agent will be traded, but when.

But until then, Happ remains one of the most prominent figures in the Blue Jays family. Manager John Gibbons called a team meeting on Sunday morning to announce Happ's All-Star nod, and the group came together to celebrate. This type of recognition was a long time coming for Happ, and the team wanted to make sure he was properly honored.

"It's just another feather in his cap," Gibbons said. "He was kind of a late bloomer in this game, and he has just gotten better and better. It couldn't have happened to a better guy. ... He has earned that. He hasn't had anything given to him. He will be a great representation of the organization."

Video: Gibbons on Happ's 1st career All-Star selection

Happ's numbers have dipped of late after a pair of rough starts against the Tigers and Yankees, which played a major role in his ERA jumping 3.48 to 4.44 in a matter of a few weeks. That unfortunate blip had a negative impact on his overall numbers, but it should not overshadow just how effective he has been over the course of his three-year deal with the Blue Jays.

Toronto initially acquired Happ midway through the 2012 season in a trade with Houston. He remained with the organization until he was dealt to Seattle prior to 2015, only to rejoin the Blue Jays later that year as a free agent on a three-year deal. By then he had multiple quality seasons under his belt, but even so, 2016 represented a bit of a coming-out party.

Happ helped lead the Blue Jays to the AL Championship Series against Cleveland after a season in which he went 20-4 with a sparkling 3.18 ERA. The following year, he posted another respectable ERA (3.53) and was on his way to something similar again this season until the recent two-start skid. Add it all up, and you have a pitcher who has been deemed "Ol' Reliable" by his coaching staff and a guy who is now 102-81 for his career, with a 3.97 ERA.

"Barring the last two outings, I feel like I've been a lot more consistent and probably more confident," Happ said. "I think those things kind of go hand in hand. You try to feed off both of those. I say it all the time, but the hardest thing about the big leagues is being consistent, because everybody has the talent and the ability. It's about doing it for the long haul and doing it consistently. That's kind of how you separate yourself. I've been proud to be able to do that, for the most part."

Fans can cast votes for the final player on each league's roster -- on computers, tablets and smartphones -- exclusively online as part of the 2018 Camping World MLB Final Vote, as well as via the MLB At Bat and MLB Ballpark mobile apps, until Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET.

Then on Tuesday, July 17, while watching the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX, fans can submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet with the 2018 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote.

The 89th Midsummer Classic, at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 180 countries. FOX Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage in the United States, while ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage.

For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, visit AllStarGame.com and follow @MLB and @AllStarGame on social media.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, J.A. Happ