If you told us back in December that JA Happ would still be a member of the New York Yankees, let alone poised to play a role in the rotation, we probably would have laughed right in your face.
After all, the club had just signed Gerrit Cole to a record-breaking mega contract. More importantly, however, Happ was genuinely dreadful for most of the 2019 season, and was slated to make $17 million in 2020.
Fast forward to mid-February, however, and the 37-year-old left-hander -- thanks to James Paxton's untimely surgery -- will be needed, even if he merely serves as a loose bolt in the Yankees complete machine
Fans in the Bronx weren't exactly thrilled with general manager Brian Cashman failing to find a buyer via trade for Happ this winter. Now, that conviction (or sheer luck) has worked to the Yanks' benefit.
With Paxton expected to miss 3-4 months, coupled with Domingo German's indefinite suspension, Aaron Boone's hand will be forced to deploy Happ into his rotation behind the likes of Cole, Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka.
The Yankees were bitten impossibly hard by the injury bug throughout the 2019 campaign, but the team amazingly thrived off the next-man-up mentality on their way to accumulating over 100 wins.
Boone's side, or at least the starting rotation, will have to adopt that mentality with the new season right around the corner, and Happ will undoubtedly be the player looking to capitalize.