AL Notes: Yankees, Pillar, Choo

Yankees left-hander J.A. Happ needs 10 starts and 62 innings this season in order for his $17MM option for 2021 to vest. Happ isn’t on pace to reach either milestone – he has three starts and 12 2/3 frames thus far – and he suggested the Yankees are trying to prevent him from reaching those marks. “It actually doesn’t take too much to figure out sort of what could be going on,” Happ said of his usage (via Bryan Hoch of “I think I can help our team. I’d like to be out there every five days.” Even if Happ’s right, it’s hard to blame the Yankees for not wanting him around at such a lofty salary in 2021. After struggling in 2019, the first guaranteed campaign of a two-year, $34MM guarantee, the 36-year-old Happ has yielded nine earned runs on 10 hits (including four homers) with six strikeouts against 10 walks this season.

  • Outfielder Kevin Pillar hopes to remain with the Red Sox, but the soon-to-be free agent understands he’s a trade candidate as the Aug. 31 deadline approaches (via Alex Speier of the Boston Globe). Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom informed Pillar that he’ll listen to offers for the 31-year-old in the coming days. It would be a surprise if Pillar’s still a member of the Red Sox on Sept. 1, considering their status as non-contenders, Pillar’s waning team control, and the fact that he’d be more useful to a playoff-caliber club. Since signing a one-year, $4.25MM contract with the Red Sox last winter, Pillar has lined up at all three outfield positions and batted a playable .257/.316/.419 in 114 plate appearances.
  • As a pending free agent, Rangers designated hitter/outfielder Shin-Soo Choo realizes he could pop up in trade talks with Monday looming, as Jeff Wilson of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram writes. “Every year, it’s been, ‘Trade Choo, trade Choo,’ but this year I have a very strong feeling,” Choo said. From the Rangers’ standpoint, though, finding a taker for Choo would likely be difficult. The 38-year-old, normally a quality offensive player, has slumped to a .216/.306/.365 line with three home runs in 85 plate appearances this season. That’s unappealing production at any price, let alone the prorated $21MM Choo is earning. Regardless, as someone who has procured 10-and-5 rights, Choo has the ability to veto any trade.
  • More on the pitching-needy Yankees, who seem likely to promote right-handed prospects Clarke Schmidt and Deivi Garcia over the weekend for their major league debuts, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post suggests. Either Schmidt or Garcia could be trade bait for the club before Aug. 31, observes Davidoff; if not, they may be able to help the Yankees’ staff. The 24-year-old Schmidt and Garcia, 21, are regarded as a pair of the Yankees’ top farmhands, with ranking the former second in their system and placing the latter at No. 3.

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