Ian Happ is Staying Involved in Any Extension Talks with the Cubs

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Ian Happ is Staying Involved in Any Extension Talks with the Cubs

Chicago Cubs

Most of the extension focus this offseason, or at least over the last few weeks, has been on Nico Hoerner, who has three years of team control remaining with the Chicago Cubs, but whose profile just FEELS like a guy ripe for an extension.

But we know that Hoerner isn’t the only guy the Cubs have been talking to about an extension, and he’s not the only guy we’d like to see stick around.

Outfielder Ian Happ, in his final year before free agency, is also someone the Cubs would like to keep around for several more years, so those conversations have been taking place, too. No deal is done yet or even necessarily close, but at least they are still talking – President Jed Hoyer said he was not going to artificially cut off talks just because Spring Training has officially started.

For Happ’s part, he’s not saying much right now, preferring to keep the nature of the talks private. But he remains quite interested in sticking around, and he keeps himself involved in the talks.

“All that stuff plays out behind closed doors and different guys go about different ways, but I’ve always been involved in everything that I do,” Happ said, per Marquee. “It’s something that I enjoy doing and have an understanding. I think it’s important …. Being someone who’s only worn this jersey and has come up through this system, I take a lot of pride in this place.

All that said, Happ is aware of the various market dynamics – prices escalating last offseason, and big names possibly coming off the market, making him one of the better free agents available – that could impact his value if he were to hit free agency.

“Yeah, it all factors in,” Happ said. “Those things definitely come into play. If you’re not looking at the full picture, you’re probably not doing your job, right?”

I tend to think, when it comes to an appropriate price tag, Happ is in a bit of a tricky spot. On the one hand, he’s coming off the best season of his career at 3.5 WAR, having been very consistent at the plate, better from the right side, striking out less, and winning a Gold Glove in left field. On the other hand, that offensive consistency hasn’t always been there, especially at a level you would associate with left field. Moreover, the Cubs’ internal strength in the farm system is in the outfield, and left field is theoretically the easiest outfield spot to replace one way or another.

That means a meeting of the minds between Happ – in order to forgo free agency – and the Cubs – in order to guarantee a big chunk of cash a year in advance – could be really tricky. I’m glad they are still talking, and I do think there is a deal there that could make sense for both sides.

Even as the Cubs have outfielders coming up through the system, I think it’s important to remember that nothing is assured on that front, especially if you’re talking about only a three or four-year deal for Happ. Young player development is not linear, and it might take some time for guys to establish themselves (if that is going to happen at all). In Happ, the Cubs already know they have an above-average bat (who is just 28), and a Gold-Glove-caliber left fielder. I don’t know that they should be too quick to dismiss that bird in hand. Maybe they don’t want to pay free agent prices on an extension, which I would understand. But there would be value in locking Happ down this offseason for several more years to come.

On the whole, I would like to see the Cubs extend Ian Happ, even if I might understand the reasons a deal never quite comes together. They’re still talking, though. So fingers crossed.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.