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Blue Jays avoid arbitration with J.A. Happ, Emilio Bonifacio

Jan 18, 2013, 12:01 PM EDT

J.A. Happ Getty Getty Images

Toronto avoided arbitration with left-hander J.A. Happ and infielder-outfielder Emilio Bonifacio, handing out one-year deals that pay $3.7 million to Happ and $2.6 million to Bonifacio.

It’s not clear how Happ fits into the Blue Jays’ plans, as they have five established starters in the rotation and aren’t exactly hurting for bullpen arms either, but the $3.7 million salary seemingly makes it unlikely that they’d stash him at Triple-A. Acquired from the Astros at midseason, he was arbitration eligible for the second time after making $2.35 million last season.

Bonifacio came over from the Marlins as part of the blockbuster deal for Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, and Mark Buehrle. He played all over defensively in Miami, but figures to the Blue Jays’ primary second baseman this season. His offense has been inconsistent and Bonifacio was hurt for much of 2012, but he has tremendous speed and has gotten on base at a .345 clip during the past three years.

  1. proudlycanadian - Jan 18, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    Happ would be in the rotation if Romero struggles or if any other pitcher gets hurt. Otherwise he just might be stashed a Triple A Buffalo in case he is needed. Having gone through a lot of injuries last season, the Jays will be going into 2013 with a lot of pitching depth. Buffalo might end up with a rotation that is almost as good as some major league teams.

    • proudlycanadian - Jan 18, 2013 at 5:10 PM

      As Aaron stated the Jays have a surplus of bullpen arms. The bullpen could easily be closer Casey Janssen, righties Sergio Santos, Steve Delabar, Esmil Rogers plus lefties Darren Oliver, Brett Cecil and Aaron Loup. Instead of being in the pen, J. A. Happ, Brad Lincoln (the Jays plan to stretch him out in the spring), Chad Jenkins and Dustin McGowan could all be destined for the Buffalo rotation and would be joined by Kyle Drabek by July. Compare those guys to the rotations in Miami, Houston and Minnesota.

  2. stew37 - Jan 18, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    I like both signings, though I see a different role than proudlycanadian. Happ steps into Villanueava’a role as the long man and replaces Ricky if his brain is still broken (which you point out correctly as his biggest value to the club). I think Happ breaks with the big club as the long man/spot starter. Love Bonafacio just as a defensive upgrade to KJ, but that OBP and speed make for a dangerously exciting, if not threatening 8 or 9 hitter. If our bottom third gets on base with any consistency look for Reyes to put up huge runs and RBI numbers.

  3. cur68 - Jan 18, 2013 at 2:26 PM

    Things which are as usual in all of MLB:
    – BSOHL begins to pick up steam from here out
    – Pitchers and Catchers report in about a month
    – HBT posting arbitration stuff like a laundry list
    – & so on, ad nauseam

    Things Which are Usual in the AL Beast:
    -A team with a solid 1-5 starting rotation that verges on the spectacular
    -A team with spare quality pitchers
    -A team with a solid BullPen (including spot starts, long relief/mop-up, and closing pitching)
    -A team with arguably the best 1-4 hitter combination in MLB
    -A team with excellent speed on the basepaths, top to bottom
    -A team without a massive payroll seems to be built to be highly competitive
    -A clever young GM has been hard at work, busy as a beaver, shoring up every weakness he could find

    That Which is Unusual in The AL Beast:
    -The above list to this one is all in reference to the same team
    -Its not the Yankees, Red Sox, or Rays
    -You could make a solid argument that many of those points actually refer to the Orioles (and good for them, too)

    • paperlions - Jan 18, 2013 at 3:11 PM

      Holy optimism batman!

      • cur68 - Jan 18, 2013 at 3:15 PM

        Some cause for it, no? You’ll notice there’s no bold predictions there. Given the rest of the AL Beast, I like the Beaz chances. Beside, even if My Boys don’t do anything other than play >.500 ball, it’ll still be a fun season. RA Dickey doing what he does pretty much guarantees it.

      • paperlions - Jan 18, 2013 at 3:36 PM

        There is optimism, and then there is optimism.

        First, let me just thank PC for the chuckle of “Buffalo might end up with a rotation that is almost as good as some major league teams”, which is 12 kinds of hilarious.

        The Jays projected rotation looks like it will be solid to very good. Spectacular? Doubtful. It could be if everything went right, which is true for many other rotations that have as much or more talent and better recent history of health/performance. JA Happ is not a spare quality pitcher, he isn’t a guy you want to pencil in the #5 spot if you don’t have to. A lot of teams have great 1-4 in their lineup, I realize these are new toys and they look shiny and perfect right now because they are still NIB….but most toys aren’t nearly as awesome as you thought they would be once their limitations are noticed. And these limitations certainly exist.

        I am not knocking AA for the moves the Jays have made this off-season. They had the money and the talent to build their MLB club to compete right now, seeing that the Sox are doing whatever it is they are doing and that the dinosaurs even think the Yankees roster is old….but the Jays have paid full price in dollars and prospects for their current MLB roster. I actually think their best move this year was signing Melky to a cheap deal.

        The drooling over the team has been a bit excessive recently, you’d think this team was going to win the WS, have the MVP and CY winners, have 8 starters on the AS team, solve world hunger, win the Super Bowl (and Grey Cup), win the Nobel Prize, and then top it all off by getting a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas (complete with compass in the stock and everything).

      • cur68 - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:10 PM

        Not being born a cynic, nor inclined to indulge myself at this late date, I’m taking an entirely opposite tack to yours (which, given your last paragraph, looks like sour grapes to me). After all, WHEN did I, or even any regular Beav commenter here, claim anything other than doing well in the division? Please don’t lump me in with anyone who’s been claiming such. I have never.

        And yes, I cop to it: this here’s fanboy drooling over the rotation. Its IS very good. Verging on the spectacular is a matter of opinion and since its mine and I’m not asking for anyone else’s, so what?. After 20 years of not so much to drool about, why the hell not? Sit around and bemoan the fates because there isn’t a Red Ryder BB Gun (etc) OR sit around and crow happy over the team assembled at the expense and under the noses of the of the rest of baseball? Many teams (including The Cards) COULD have gone out and got Cabrera. They didn’t. They could have fleeced the Feesh. They didn’t. They COULD have gone after Dickey. They. Did. Not. AA did, and why not say so, especially given the utter lack of anything much to talk about for the past 20 years, hmmm?

        You claim “Holy optimism batman!”, yeah? I claim “Holy sour grapes, Batman.”

  4. paint771 - Jan 18, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    I agree with stew, and think he breaks with the club as the long man and spot starter, a role that the Blue Jays really learned the value of last year. 6th man on the rotation, properly used, is a really underrated thing to have, in terms of value. 162 games is a long span for five guys to cover, and as the Blue Jays now well know, you better have a plan on how to patch things for your occasional bad game in a series or thin week in the rotation (without having to start calling up the farm system for July tryouts). It’s not really a matter of if so much as when and how much you’ll have to use a guy like Happ, but I guarantee you having him around makes AA et al feel a lot better about their chances, and rightly so.

  5. jaysjunkie - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    Happ as the long man makes sense on paper…I just wonder if he’s more accepting of that role, because he certainly wasn’t last year. After the trade from Houston, he didn’t seem at all pleased that they were using him out of the pen and went to Farrell and requested they put him back as a starter where he’s more comfortable. Maybe he’s more open to the bullpen role when he looks around and sees he has the chance to be part of a potential winner. We shall see.

    • cur68 - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:22 PM

      Agree. He’s more a long man, given what the rest of the rotation looks like. He can trade spot starts with Cecil if there’s injury trouble (virtually guaranteed) or someone turns into a pumpkin. Lots of teams wish they had these kinds of problems.

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