Yankees bolster rotation, land J.A. Happ in trade with Blue Jays

Happ gives Yankees depth in short series (1:13)

Pedro Gomez says the Yankees have addressed their needs by acquiring J.A. Happ to bolster their rotation and help in a short postseason series. (1:13)

The New York Yankees have bolstered their starting pitching, trading for Toronto Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ, the team announced Thursday.

Infielder Brandon Drury has been traded to Toronto along with Triple-A outfielder Billy McKinney.

Based off what he's seen of Happ over the years in addition to a conversation he had Thursday with the 35-year-old starter, Yankees manager Aaron Boone can't wait to get the pitcher in pinstripes.

"I'm really excited about this," Boone said. "This is a guy who's obviously had a really good career, he's having a good year this year. We think in a lot of ways he can pitch a lot better than his numbers might suggest."

Happ is 10-6 with a 4.18 ERA in 114 innings pitched for the Blue Jays this season.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman had been courting the Blue Jays over Happ for a while, exchanging multiple negotiations based on how both teams were playing and Happ was pitching.

"It felt like a stare-down contest," Cashman said.

In recent days, Cashman employed an old trade-deadline approach in order to ensure he didn't let the lefty get away.

"I usually approach things as, how I feel if [Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins] wound up going in a different direction and if I wound up pivoting and continuing my journey for something I needed.

"J.A. Happ was someone we valued."

Cashman and the Yankees were on the hunt for veteran starting pitching help in the offseason, but they didn't get it. Because they didn't, they have spent much of this season looking to acquire the best available pitchers in this trading marketplace.

They believe they have now done that.

Some of Happ's best success has come against the Red Sox, the Yankees' chief rival in the American League East. He is 7-4 with a 2.98 ERA in his career against the Red Sox.

The Yankees and Red Sox play 10 more times this season.

In two starts against Boston this season, he has a 0.84 ERA. In his last outing against the Red Sox, he gave up five runs, including a grand slam to Mookie Betts. Each of the runs he allowed in the 6-4 loss on July 12 was unearned.

That rough start was one of a few Happ has had in recent weeks. It seemed that as the trade deadline drew closer and closer, his numbers looked poorer and poorer. In his start that immediately preceded that one, a July 7 appearance against the Yankees, Happ couldn't get out of the third inning before walking six and allowing six runs.

"Some of that's a little bit deceiving," Boone said of Happ's recent struggles. "It's probably been some defensive issues behind him. Some of the peripheral numbers suggest he's been a lot more like he's been all year.

"His stuff and his velocity all appears to be the same. So we feel that we're getting a pitcher we've seen the last few years."

Cashman said he used some of Happ's recent performances in his negotiating tactics. He felt they might help drive down the price for the pitcher.

A 12-year veteran, Happ has a career record of 102-82 and a 3.95 ERA. He has played for the Philadelphia Phillies, Houston Astros, Seattle Mariners and Pittsburgh Pirates as well as the Blue Jays.

Drury, who has played every infield position this season except shortstop, is batting .176 in 18 games in the majors. Acquired by the Yankees from the Arizona Diamondbacks in February, he was the Yankees' Opening Day third baseman. But when Drury went on the disabled list after the team's eighth game because of blurred vision and migraines, he lost his job to rookie Miguel Andujar.

Shuttled back and forth between the majors and Triple-A after getting treatments that addressed the issue, Drury had played in just 10 games for the Yankees since.

"I had bad breaks along the way," Drury said in the Yankees' clubhouse before Thursday night's game against the Royals. "Just had some stuff happen that wasn't planned, that wasn't expected. Baseball is a crazy game. Stuff happens and it wasn't expected and it didn't work out."

Boone wished Drury's stay could've gone better.

"The reason we got him is we really feel like this is a big league third baseman. And we still feel that way," Boone said. "There's just some unique circumstances; unfortunate ones in Brandon's case that just made this a very trying year for him, and in a lot of ways, unfair."

Drury is joining the Blue Jays in Chicago this weekend, where they will play three games against the White Sox.

"I'm excited to get over there and get in the lineup and finish the season up strong with the Blue Jays," Drury said.

McKinney has spent most of the season in the minors and is currently at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In 62 games at three levels, he is hitting .230 with 13 home runs and 35 RBIs. He has played two games for the Yankees this season, filling in March 30-31 because of injuries to other outfielders.

He was drafted in the first round (24th overall) of the 2013 draft by the Oakland Athletics. The Yankees acquired McKinney from the Cubs in the trade that sent Aroldis Chapman to Chicago in 2016.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.