No Extension Talk for Ian Happ - Just How Likely is a Trade?

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No Extension Talk for Ian Happ – Just How Likely is a Trade?

Chicago Cubs

With Juan Soto increasingly likely to be dealt before the deadline (and Michael Conforto suddenly available) I do think the odds of pre-deadline trade of Ian Happ have decreased ever-so-slightly over the last seven days.

There is – of course – no world where Happ and Soto are considered substitutes for each other. But their fates over the next 12 days are not entirely disconnected, either. Both are cost-controlled corner outfield bats in a market whose appetite is relatively strong on that front. Obviously, teams will value Soto in a very different way than Happ, but they’re both corner outfielders, which does matter, especially when that position wasn’t particularly sought after in the first place. As for Conforto, he’s got a similar profile to Happ and can be had for only money. In other words, you could say that there is still a relationship in this market because, where Soto goes, for example, you would not see Happ also going.

Bottom line: The Cubs were only likely to trade Happ if they’re overwhelmed by an offer, and the most desperate teams, the ones most likely to make that sort of offer in the first place, now have two alternatives — one that’s way better and one that’s way cheaper (in terms of acquisition cost).

But make no mistake, it’s still very possible that Happ is traded by August 2.

According to Steve Greenberg (Chicago Sun Times), the Cubs have not approached Ian Happ about an extension, which means, as of today, he’s got just 1.5 more years of team control remaining. And given the way the Cubs have operated with every other member of the core so far, that would seem to point in one direction: A trade.

The question is whether or not that will happen at THIS deadline – when Happ’s value is at an all-time high. The alternative is this winter or next deadline, if there’s still no hope for an extension and/or if the Cubs stink once again.

Either way, Happ is bracing for the possibility of moving on, though he doesn’t sound particularly excited about it:

“I grew up in Chicago,” he said. “I was 20 years old when I got drafted by the Cubs. I got there in 2017, have been in the city and made so many friends and connections with people. I really do view it as home.

“That’s what’s so tough with the deadline: You get traded, the next day you’re out. You don’t get to go back. You don’t get to say goodbye to people. You’re gone. You’re working the next day for somebody else.”

The conversation is continued at The Athletic, where Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma weigh the pros and cons of keeping him in the organization:

Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer doesn’t have to trade Happ this summer, either, because he will remain under club control next season. But that timeline could make Happ, who will turn 28 next month, even more attractive to a playoff contender. While Happ is an improved defender in left field, due in part to his focus on route-running and positioning, that spot is relatively easy to fill, at least compared to catcher or shortstop, and the Cubs have a number of outfield prospects on the horizon. It’s also a matter of supply and demand at the trade deadline. 

With Seiya Suzuki in place, Brennen Davis knocking at the door, Christopher Morel able to play across the outfield, and so many of the Cubs’ best prospects in the outfield, I don’t think it’s all that crazy to entertain a Happ trade. Selling high is usually a good idea. And left field is among the easier spots to backfill in free agency/internally.

But I also don’t think it’s crazy to believe a former top-10 draft pick, who’s always been an above-average overall hitter, has finally figured things out at the plate. And at just 27-years-old, Ian Happ could be a big part of the team for the foreseeable future, if they do decide to keep him around.

In the end, there’s just a ton of uncertainty – for us, for Happ, and probably for the Cubs front office. And I just don’t think we’re going to know for sure which direction this is heading until much closer to August 2. I suspect the Cubs are still simply in listening mode, and the actual completion of a trade is a coin flip.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami