The Dodgers and Angels are strapped

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Mike DiGiovanna and Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times write that both the Dodgers and the Angels are limited in what they can do this offseason due to payroll restrictions.  The Angels have roughly $12 million to work with.  The Dodgers have their own problems of course, but even if you don’t look at the McCourt drama, they have a handful of players — Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Chad Billingsley, Russell Martin, James Loney, Jonathan Broxton, George Sherrill and Hong-Chih Kuo — who are due for raises heading into 2010 which could jack the payroll by $20 million before they even sign anyone to fill the holes they have.

Upshot: if the Angels have any hope of retaining their big free agents, it will have to be with backloaded deals.  If the Dodgers are going to make any real changes, it will be via bargain hunting.  The way things sit right now, neither team seems poised to actually improve in 2010.

Which means that if I were running the Giants, Mariners, Rockies or the Rangers, I’d think long and hard about going for broke this winter and making a deal that could be the equivalent of stepping on the L.A. teams’ throats.

Report: Yankees J.A. Happ, closing in on a three-year deal

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UPDATE: Rosenthal is now walking the report back a bit, saying that indications that the Yankees and Happ are close to a deal but that it is not yet done.

10:29 AM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the Yankees and J.A. Happ have come to terms on a three-year deal. The agreement is pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known.

Happ just turned 36, but he has been effective enough to warrant a three-year commitment. The Yankees know this as well as anyone, having acquired him last year and watched him post a 7-0 record and a 2.69 ERA in 11 starts in New York. For the entire season he was 17-6 with a 3.65 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 193/51 in 177.2 innings between the Yankees and the Blue Jays.

With Happ back in the fold, the Yankees rotation now consists of Luis Severino, James Paxton, Happ, Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia, not necessarily in that order. A good group, assuming it stays healthy.