J.A. Happ declined to take any shots at the Yankees on his way out the door.
The left-hander signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Twins and during his introductory conference call with Minnesota on Friday, Happ chose to talk about what’s ahead and not revisit his difficult last season with the Yankees, which featured several occasions in which Happ implied he believed the team was limiting his usage to avoid his $17 million 2021 option from vesting.
Asked about his final season in The Bronx, Happ said, “Performance-wise, I felt really good about 2020. I thought I turned the page on the previous year and was sort of back to where I was throwing the ball the previous five or six years. I felt really good about that [and] about being able to overcome some things during the season. I had great teammates there, and I wish them well, but I’m more just focused on moving forward and excited about this opportunity with the Twins.”
Happ added, “free agency was interesting this offseason so far.”
The 38-year-old joins a Twins team with postseason aspirations and Minnesota’s President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey said “we’re thrilled to have him.”
“He’s somebody that comes incredibly highly recommended by every coach and teammate that’s been around him. He’s a tremendous fit for our clubhouse. On the field, his track record speaks for itself. This is a guy that goes out and takes the ball every day and has for a long time.”
Workload was one of the issues during his last year with the Yankees, as Happ was skipped in the rotation following a rough first two outings of the regular season.
Happ said of his limited number of starts during the season, “You guys [in the media] are pretty smart. It doesn’t take too much to figure out, sort of, what could be going on.’’
He pitched well for much of the rest of the year, but struggled in relief in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Rays.
Now, he will join a rotation that includes Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios and former Yankee Michael Pineda.
Though Happ is signed just for this season, he intends to keep pitching beyond 2021.
“You try to judge the market and this was an interesting market,’’ Happ said of pandemic-affected free agency. “But I get another opportunity and I plan to get another one after this.”