The Chicago Cubs opted against trading Willson Contreras or Ian Happ at the deadline. While Contreras was a head-scratcher, Happ makes some sense.
Happ has made great mechanical improvements this season with hitting coach Greg Brown, and with a year left on his contract, the Cubs felt they should use that control to get more out of the slugging outfielder.
The 27-year-old had plenty of suitors, including the Toronto Blue Jays and Atlanta Braves, at Tuesday’s trade deadline. However, just like Contreras, Chicago’s asking price was too high to meet.
Unlike Contreras, though, holding onto Happ makes some sense.
Contreras is all but gone after this season unless Chicago’s front office changes course. They haven’t offered him a realistic contract extension since 2018. Happ is a little more affordable, and has a year left on his deal to potentially figure out a long-term solution.
Why the Cubs didn’t trade Ian Happ
Now, Happ and Contreras re-enter the fold on the north side of Chicago in perhaps the latter’s final go-around. Fans can once again clamor together and give Contreras a standing ovation at the end of the season, just in case it really is his last run.
Happ is slashing .276/.357/.431 on the year. His power is down from years past, but his average and contact rates have since gone up, so it’s a fair trade-off.
Jed Hoyer explained his approach, though it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if he’s truly trying to build the “next great Cubs team” as he’s so often mentioned:
“We were willing to listen if someone gave us a piece that could really help our future. We never crossed that threshold. Willson is a really valuable player. He’s been a great Cub for six years now and we never got to that place where we felt comfortable making a deal.”
There you have it, from the man himself. Keeping Contreras is a bit more of a puzzle, but Happ makes plenty of since. Chicago’s expectations weren’t met for a player with another year of control left on his contract.
And thus, Happ gets to live out this nightmare all over against next summer.