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Yankees acquire J.A. Happ from Blue Jays

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The Yankees have acquired Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ. In return they have sent infielder Brandon Drury and outfield prospect Billy McKinney.

Happ is 10-6 on the season with a 4.18 ERA in 20 starts. While, after 12 years in the bigs, you sort of know what to expect from Happ, he has increased his strikeout rate dramatically this year, punching out 10.3 batters per nine after averaging only 7.9 for his career. His WHIP, 1.175, is at a career low as well. He has had a couple of outlier starts that have elevated his ERA, including an outing in early July against the Yankees in which he gave up six runs. He’ll be a free agent after the season after completing the three-year, $36M contract he got from the Jays before the 2016 season.

Drury the Yankees’ Opening Day third baseman, but the emergence of Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres, combined with Drury’s time on the disabled list due to migraines and blurred vision have limited him to just 57 plate appearances this year. Those have been forgettable, but he batted a combined .273/.323/.453 with 29 homers, 68 doubles and three triples in just under 1,000 plate appearances with the Diamondbacks in 2016-17 and he’s still just 25.

McKinney, a first rounder of the A’s in 2013, was included as a throw-in in larger trades that sent him first to the Cubs and then to the Yankees in the Aroldis Chapman deal in 2016. He’s played in two games for the Yankees and has hit 230/.294/.502 with 13 homers, eight doubles and five triples. A lot of power, not much on-base ability. Some Yankees fans may not be happy to see him go because of the power, but he really is expendable for a team in the Yankees’ position.

The Yankees improved their bullpen by picking up Zach Britton the other day. Now they bolster their rotation without having to give up all that much, truth be told. These are some nice moves. Now we’ll see if these moves right what has been, for them anyway, a rough patch in recent weeks.

Angels’ Andrelton Simmons opts out of final 5 games

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shortstop Andrelton Simmons has opted out of the remainder of the Los Angeles Angels’ season.

The Angels announced the four-time Gold Glove-winning shortstop’s decision Tuesday before they faced the San Diego Padres.

Los Angeles (24-31) is still technically in the playoff race with five games left in the regular season, and Simmons clearly caught the Angels by surprise, although the club said it respected his decision.

The 31-year-old Simmons, who can be a free agent this winter, is finishing his fifth year with the Angels. After spraining his ankle in late July and missing 22 games, Simmons is currently batting .297 with 10 RBIs while playing his usual stellar defense, albeit with four errors in 30 games.

“At this time, I feel this is the best decision for me and my family,” Simmons said in a statement. “We don’t know what the future holds, but we would like to sincerely thank the Angels organization and Angels fans for welcoming and making us feel at home.”

Manager Joe Maddon acknowledged he was caught by surprise when general manager Billy Eppler told him about Simmons’ decision Monday night after Simmons went 1 for 4 with an RBI single in the Angels’ home finale. Maddon texted Simmons, but hadn’t heard back by Tuesday afternoon.

“I’ve really enjoyed this guy a lot,” Maddon said. “I’m a big fan. This guy is a good baseball player, and I’ve enjoyed the conversations, too. It’s just unfortunate. He’s really a big part of what we’re doing right now.”

Simmons is a favorite of Angels fans for his defensive wizardry, and owner Arte Moreno has described Simmons as perhaps his favorite player to watch on the roster. Simmons has batted .281 with 36 homers and 281 RBIs during his five seasons with Los Angeles, and he won the Gold Glove in 2017 and 2018.

“He’s a thinking kind of a player, and I’ve enjoyed him a lot,” Maddon said.

Simmons will be a free agent this winter, and the Angels have an obvious replacement for him in David Fletcher, who has a .374 on-base percentage while regularly hitting leadoff for the Angels during his breakout major league season. Fletcher has been playing second base since Simmons’ return from injury.

But the Angels haven’t publicly closed the door on Simmons’ return, and he could be given a qualifying offer. Maddon has repeatedly said he would like Simmons to return in 2021 if possible.

The Angels haven’t had a winning season during Simmons’ five years in Anaheim, although Simmons said last week he wasn’t discouraged by the lack of team success. Simmons played his first four major league seasons in Atlanta, and he hasn’t appeared in the postseason since 2013.

Simmons also said he hadn’t been involved in any recent contract talks with the Angels, but he had enjoyed playing for the club. When asked if he wanted to return to the Halos, Simmons said he would have to “plead the fifth.”