LaVelle E. Neal III becomes BBWAA’s first African-American president

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LaVelle E. Neal of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune was officially named as the president of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) at the organization’s World Series meeting on Saturday.

Neal, who has been covering the Twins for the Star-Tribune since 1998, is the first African-American president in the 105-year history of the BBWAA. He served as vice president over the past year and will replace the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Susan Slusser, who was elected as the BBWAA’s first woman president one year ago.

BBWAA presidents typically serve one-year terms, with the vice president moving up the next year. According to the Associated Press, Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle was elected vice president today, so he’ll be in position to take over as president next year.

Our congratulations go out to LaVelle and Jose.

Yankees, Mariners expressing interest in J.A. Happ

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Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the Yankees and Mariners are both expressing interest in Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ.

Happ is posting a 3.48 ERA and a 94/25 K/BB ratio in 82.2 innings across 14 starts and has been stingy with the hits as well. Between that, the Blue Jays’ lack of contention and the fact that Happ is in the walk year of his three-year, $36 million deal, all signs point to the Jays trading them.

In normal circumstances you might not expect the Jays to make a trade with the Yankees, but at this point it sort of doesn’t matter, does it? It’s not like Happ in New York on a couple month rental will impact the 2018 Jays too much. And, given his pending free agency, it’s not extraordinarily likely that he’d haunt the Jays from the Bronx long term either.

There’s not a ton of elite pitching currently available, but as the trade deadline approaches — a little over a month to go on that score — the talk about Happ, Cole Hamels, Francisco Liriano and others will heat up. Figure the Yankees will be linked with any and all available starters.