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Over at The Ringer, Michael Baumann asked whether the White Sox had separated themselves from the rest of the pack in the AL Central.
Later in the day, the Twins responded as though the article reminded them of their position in the division. Minnesota finally broke the seal on its offseason by signing veteran lefty J.A. Happ to a one-year, $8 million deal.
The deal gives the Twins a fourth starter they needed, as both Jake Odorizzi and Rich Hill became free agents this winter. Happ’s easy to overlook because he’s a late bloomer without much in the way of velocity, but over his last six seasons, he’s 72-39 with a 3.74 ERA, and good for 30 starts in most full seasons. He’s accomplished enough that Yankees fans thought Aaron Boone put him in a position to fail by not starting him in Game 3.
He’s also a lefty, and the White Sox like seeing that. One particular White Sox literally liked the news on Twitter.
Anderson has enjoyed facing Happ thus far, going 9-for-16 with two homers and a triple over the course of their matchups. Happ’s fared decently against the White Sox over the course of his career, with a 4-3 record and 51 strikeouts over 46⅓ innings. He built a lot of that success during the days where the White Sox couldn’t hit a lefty with good command and the threat of a changeup.
These White Sox are coming off a 14-0 record against lefties during the regular season, and they also backed up their talk against Jesus Luzardo in Game 1 of the Wild Card Series. The Sox didn’t face Happ in 2020 because of the schedule, but they torched him for 10 runs over nine innings in 2019.
So there’s reason for both sides to feel buoyed by this news. Happ should help the Twins over the course of 162 games, but the White Sox might not feel directly threatened by the 19 games that involve them.
* * * * * * * * *
In other news
*The Toronto Blue Jays resumed swinging and missing on top free agents after their success signing of George Springer. Michael Brantley appeared destined to join his former outfieldmate in Toronto — or will it actually be Dunedin? — but the initial reports were premature, and Brantley ended up returning to Houston for two years and $32 million. That contract is another one that basically arrived at the FanGraphs’ crowdsourced average (two years, $30 million).
*The Astros reportedly just signed Jason Castro to a one-year deal, taking another cromulent backup catcher off the market.
*Speaking of Springer and FanGraphs, Dan Szymborski mapped out Springer’s projections over the duration of the six-year, $150M deal, and the aging curve looks fairly predictable.
- 2021: .283/.364/.534, 4.7 WAR
- 2022: .280/.361/.527, 4.2 WAR
- 2023: .273/.351/.501, 3.4 WAR
- 2024: .267/.344/.466, 2.5 WAR
- 2025: .257/.328/.436, 1.7 WAR
- 2026: .250/.317/.404, 0.9 WAR
One might look at this deal and see the Blue Jays not getting their money’s worth after the halfway point. I look at these lines and think Springer is a guy who can get a team where it needs to go in those first three years. If he helps his club become a legitimate postseason threat multiple years in a row, with the TV ratings and October revenues that follow, that opens a team up to a whole new level of money that makes an inefficient $25 million salary much, much easier to absorb.
(Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)