Sources: J.A. Happ staying with Yankees on 2-year deal

Starter J.A. Happ agreed to a two-year, $34 million contract with the New York Yankees with the option for a third year, a source familiar with the deal told Yahoo Sports, providing left-handed rotation depth to a team starved for it and rewarding the late-career renaissance of Happ, one of the game’s most consistent starters.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post first reported the contract details.

The 36-year-old Happ’s odd career trajectory – he throws as hard now as he ever has – resulted in a career-high strikeout rate last season and was showcased during 11 dynamic starts with the Yankees after they acquired him from the Toronto Blue Jays in a trade-deadline deal. The end-of-the-year run capped Happ’s fourth consecutive season with a sub-4.00 ERA.

Only seven other pitchers have thrown as many innings as Happ with ERAs under four the last four years: Max Scherzer, Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, Clayton Kershaw, Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco and Jake Arrieta. Five have won Cy Young Awards, and the two who haven’t, Sale and Carrasco, are considered among the game’s best pitchers.

Related: See players who have switched teams this offseason: 

33 PHOTOS
MLB players who have switched teams over the 2018-19 offseason
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MLB players who have switched teams over the 2018-19 offseason

INF Manny Machado

Left the Los Angeles Dodgers in free agency to sign with the San Diego Padres

(Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

OF Bryce Harper

Left the Washington Nationals in free agency to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies

(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

OF Yasiel Puig

Traded from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Cincinnati Reds

(Photo by Keith Birmingham/Digital First Media/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

2B DJ LeMahieu

Left the Colorado Rockies in free agency to sign with the New York Yankees

(Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

OF Matt Kemp

Traded from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Cincinnati Reds

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

RHP Joe Kelly

Left the Boston Red Sox in free agency to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers

(Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

C Yasmani Grandal

Left the Los Angeles Dodgers in free agency to sign with the Milwaukee Brewers

(Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

2B Robinson Cano

Traded to the New York Mets from the Seattle Mariners

(Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)

RHP Edwin Diaz

Traded to the New York Mets from the Seattle Mariners

(Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

RHP Jeurys Familia

Left the Oakland Athletics in free agency to sign with the New York Mets

(Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

RF Andrew McCutchen

Left the New York Yankees in free agency to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies

(Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

INF Jed Lowrie

Left the Oakland A's in free agency to sign with the New York Mets

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

RHP Ivan Nova

Traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Chicago White Sox

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

LHP Patrick Corbin

Left the Arizona Diamondbacks in free agency to sign with the Washington Nationals

(Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

1B Paul Goldschmidt

Traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the St. Louis Cardinals

(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

SS Jean Segura

Traded from the Seattle Mariners to the Philadelphia Phillies

(Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion

Traded from the Cleveland Indians to the Seattle Mariners

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

1B Justin Bour

Left the Philadelphia Phillies in free agency to sign with the Los Angeles Angels

(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

1B Yonder Alonso

Traded by the Cleveland Indians to the Chicago White Sox

(Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

OF Michael Brantley

Left the Cleveland Indians in free agency to sign with the Houston Astros

(Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)

RHP Matt Harvey

Left the Cincinnati Reds in free agency to sign with the Los Angeles Angels

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

RHP Anibal Sanchez

Left the Atlanta Braves in free agency to sign with the Washington Nationals

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

DH Nelson Cruz

Left the Seattle Mariners in free agency to sign with the Minnesota Twins

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

RHP Kendall Graveman

Left the Oakland A's in free agency to sign with the Chicago Cubs

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

RHP Charlie Morton

Left the Houston Astros in free agency to sign with the Tampa Bay Rays

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

Outfielder Domingo Santana

Traded by the Milwaukee Brewers to the Seattle Mariners

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Infielder Daniel Murphy

Left the Chicago Cubs in free agency to sign with the Colorado Rockies

(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

RHP Joakim Soria

Left the Milwaukee Brewers in free agency to sign with the Oakland A's

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

RHP Andrew Miller

Left the Cleveland Indians in free agency to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

2B Jurickson Profar

Traded by the Texas Rangers to the Oakland A's

(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

RHP Trevor Cahill

Left the Oakland A's in free agency to sign with the Los Angeles Angels

(Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

2B Brian Dozier

Left the Los Angeles Dodgers in free agency to sign with the Washington Nationals

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

RHP Shelby Miller

Left the Arizona Diamondbacks in free agency to sign with the Texas Rangers

(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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While Happ isn’t typically regarded a peer to such pitchers, his reliability has proven itself over the course of his 12-year career, which has seen him bounce from Philadelphia to Houston to Toronto to Seattle to Pittsburgh to Toronto and ultimately to New York. In his starts with the Yankees, Happ posted a 2.69 ERA and struck out barely less than a batter an inning. For the entire 2018 season, he threw 177 2/3 innings, punched out 193, walked 51 and had a 3.65 ERA.

Still, a multiyear deal for a player 35 or older – even pitchers – is rarer than ever. The New York Mets gave left-hander Jason Vargas the winter of 2017’s only one, and it wound up a disaster. While others have proven more successful – Rich Hill with the Los Angeles Dodgers has been solid and John Lackey won a World Series with the Chicago Cubs – longer-term commitments have been frowned upon by teams.

The growth of Happ’s fastball velocity didn’t hurt the perception of the Yankees that he was durable and aging well enough to warrant a two-year deal. While he lived in the high 80s and low 90s early in his career, Happ’s fastball today sits around 92 mph, and he relies on it heavily, throwing it nearly three of every four pitches.

Happ didn’t join a major league rotation until he was 26 years old, and through his age-31 season, he wasn’t seen as much more than a No. 5-type starter. After a strong second half with Pittsburgh following a deadline acquisition in 2015, the Blue Jays gave Happ a three-year, $36 million deal. Rival executives cried overpay. It was anything but for Toronto, which saw Happ go 20-4 with a 3.18 ERA in 2016 and make his first All-Star Game in 2018.

With the Yankees, he’ll try to continue that trend of turning back the clock – and play a role in winning his first World Series, too.

Remaining free agents still on the market: 

9 PHOTOS
Remaining MLB free agents: 2018-19
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Remaining MLB free agents: 2018-19

RP Craig Kimbrel

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

SP Dallas Keuchel

(Photo by Loren Elliott/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

C Kurt Suzuki

(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

C Martin Maldonado

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

SS Jose Iglesias

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

LF Marwin Gonzalez

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

LF Denard Span

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

CF Adam Jones

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

SP Bartolo Colon

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

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