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Is J.A. Happ headed back to Toronto?

With reports of the Toronto Blue Jays meeting with J.A. Happ’s representatives, how likely is it that the 2018 All-Star will return to Southern Ontario next season?

There was an interesting development during the week, involving the Toronto Blue Jays and J.A. Happ. It emerged that the team met with Happ’s representatives on Tuesday.

The news was initially reported by Sportsnet‘s Shi Davidi. Blue Jays’ general manager Ross Atkins confirmed the news when speaking to Davidi:

“JA is one of my favourite people in baseball … We’d love to have him back here. I would imagine there would be a great deal of competition for him.”

According to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, the Minnesota Twins are among the teams apparently interested in Happ. The Cincinnati Reds are also reportedly considering making a play for the free agent.

It makes sense that there will be great interest in the 36-year-old, given his performance during the 2018 campaign. Forget his age; he is pitching as good as ever at this stage of a major league career which has lasted 12 seasons.

Even as the Blue Jays struggled during 2018, Happ emerged as the most consistent performer on the pitching staff. This led to his first ever invitation to the All-Star Game.

As a result of his production, the 2004 third round draft pick was traded to the Yankees. Once in New York he stepped up his game, going 7-0 in 11 starts and recording an ERA of 2.69.

In addition, Happ’s strikeout rate was particularly impressive. By the end of the 2018 campaign he had set a new career best, at 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings.

Of course, it’s one thing for Atkins to say the Blue Jays are interested in the Peru, Illinois native. It’s another thing for them to actually be able (prepared?) to put up the money likely needed to re-sign a player who made $13 million this past season, and will be offered more.

Happ has often said how much he enjoyed his two stints in Toronto (2012-14 and 2016-18). However, despite winning a World Series ring in 2008, he is at the stage of his career where you imagine he would prefer to play for a contender.

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While you can never say never, the Blue Jays are rebuilding and unlikely to put together a serious playoff challenge, at least in 2018. And along with the money aspect, would the team be willing to offer a three-year, which is apparently what the lefty will be looking for.

Overall, there is no denying Happ would offer the experience and consistency which would help a rotation (and team) in transition. Ultimately though, the reality is he will likely be pitching elsewhere in 2019.

Next: Joe Carter unlikely to be voted into Hall of Fame

Do you predict Happ will re-sign with the Toronto Blue Jays for next season? Do you actually want him back, or should the club just move on? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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