When J.A. Happ fired a direct shot at the New York Yankees in an interview, Brian Cashman took note and clapped back.
“He did not have a good season last year. He had a poor season last year, and he’s gotten out of the gate not very successful for us this year,” Cashman told the New York Post’s Ken Davidoff.
“… You get a chance to play more with positive performance and you get the chance to play less with negative performance. It’s as simple as that.”
Cashman was responding to Happ’s comments implying the team is trying to keep the veteran starter from a $17 million vesting option for next season.
Per New York Post reporter Dan Martin, Happ needs 10 starts and 61.1 innings this season to get his 2021 payday. It’s quite possible that he won’t hit those marks.
After several unexpected days off due to COVID-19, New York reset its rotation. The change slotted Gerrit Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, and Jordan Montgomery ahead of Happ, who hadn’t pitched since Aug. 16.
When asked directly if he thought the Yankees were attempting to avoid paying him next year, Happ got passive aggressive.
“You guys [in the media] are pretty smart,” he said, per Martin. “It doesn’t take too much to figure out, sort of, what could be going on.”
Heading into his start on Saturday against the New York Mets, Happ had given up nine runs in 12.2 innings. He wasn’t much better in a full season last year, going 12-8 despite posting a 4.91 ERA (5.22 FIP).
Then, with Cashman’s comments possibly echoing in his ears, Happ turned in his best game of the year. The 37-year-old allowed only three hits and didn’t walk a batter over 7.1 shutout innings Saturday afternoon.
Maybe a little tough love is just what the doctor ordered for J.A.