NEW YORK -- The Yankees acquired coveted left-hander J.A. Happ from the Blue Jays on Thursday afternoon for two players.Toronto received infielder Brandon Drury and outfielder Billy McKinney, the Yankees' No. 20 prospect as ranked by MLB Pipeline."We've been in contact with a lot of teams, obviously, about the available
NEW YORK -- The Yankees acquired coveted left-hander J.A. Happ from the Blue Jays on Thursday afternoon for two players.
Toronto received infielder Brandon Drury and outfielder Billy McKinney, the Yankees' No. 20 prospect as ranked by MLB Pipeline.
"We've been in contact with a lot of teams, obviously, about the available starters on the marketplace," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "That's an area of need we've been trying to fill for a while, and we had targeted Happ as one of a few targets that were enviable. [Blue Jays general manager] Ross Atkins and I have just stayed in touch. Finally made the decision to pull the trigger today."
Happ is 10-6 with a 4.18 ERA in 20 starts for the Blue Jays this season. Of note, he's been particularly good against the Red Sox in his career. He has a 0.84 ERA in two starts against them this season and has gone 7-4 with a 2.98 ERA in 19 career games (18 starts) vs. Boston.
"I think that certainly helps and is part of who he is and is part of his resume, if you will," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "You know you're getting a guy that's experienced, that obviously likes pitching in big ballgames and has been a part of that, so that's part of the resume. But you're also looking at the talent and what you think you're getting from a talent standpoint as a pitcher. I feel like we're getting a good one."
Happ was an All-Star for the first time this year after having a strong start to the season, going 10-3 with a 3.62 ERA through his first 16 starts. But the lefty has struggled of late, recording three consecutive losses in July -- two of which were outings that lasted fewer than four innings -- before settling for a no-decision the last time he took the mound.
"We're looking forward to him coming here and competing and fitting in with what we've got here and contributing," Cashman said. "He's a fresh arm who can give us some competitive innings, and I think at the very least he's going to do that, but I think there's a lot more upside than what he's recently pitched like."
"I think some of that is a little bit deceiving," Boone said. "I think there's probably some defensive issues behind him. Some of the peripheral numbers suggest that he's been a lot more like he's been all year. The stuff, the velocity, all appears to be the same, so we feel like we're getting the pitcher we've seen most of the year and most of the last couple years for the Blue Jays."
McKinney, 23, was included in two blockbuster trades in three years -- the Cubs acquired him from the A's with Addison Russell in July 2014, then sent him and Gleyber Torres to the Yankees in the 2016 trade for Albertin Chapman. He made his big league debut in April, playing in two games, and has slashed .227/.297/.498 in 55 Triple-A games this year.
Drury -- who was acquired by the Yankees from the D-backs prior to the 2018 season -- has had a short tenure with New York, going from the big leagues to the disabled list with migraines and blurry vision, then to the Minor Leagues after the arrival of Torres.
"I'm excited to get over there, get in the lineup and finish the season strong with the Blue Jays," Drury said. "[My experience with the Yankees] wasn't what I expected coming in. Definitely not what I expected the season to be like as a Yankee, but it happened and it's going to make me better in the long run. So just got to keep doing what I do."
Drury said that he has already been in contact with Atkins, who told him that he would be in the Blue Jays' lineup Friday night in Chicago. Drury played in just 18 games with the Yankees this season, posting a .176 batting average with one home run and seven RBIs.
"He was not acquired here to be a depth piece," Cashman said. "I didn't acquire him to be an insurance policy sitting in Triple-A. Given the new world order we're living in with Miguel Andujar, it changed the landscape for him. He's going to provide some flexibility, upside and control for another organization now."
Mandy Bell is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.