Ian Happ won his arbitration hearing over the Cubs and will earn the $4.1MM salary for which he and his reps at Excel Sports filed rather than the team’s proposed $3.25MM figure, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports (via Twitter).
Happ, 26, has played all three outfield spots, second base, third base and a little bit of first base through his first four seasons as a Cub, batting a combined .248/.344/.481 along the way. He’s connected on 62 homers, 54 doubles and seven triples through 1262 plate appearances, adding in 19 steals on the bases (albeit with a questionable success rate, as he’s also been caught 11 times).
Happ succeeded in spite of one of the game’s highest strikeout rates in his first two seasons, but he’s lowered that mark from 33.8 percent in 2017-18 to a more tolerable 26.4 percent in 2019-20. He could certainly still stand to further pare back that punchout rate, but for a player with his well above-average power and walk rates, the strikeouts are a little easier to overlook.
Over the past two seasons, Happ has made some offensive gains at the plate, hitting at a combined .260/.350/.530 through a relatively small sample of 387 plate appearances. That’s good for 30 percent better than the league average overall, by measure of wRC+, and if it’s a sign of things to come then Happ ought to be positioned quite nicely from a financial standpoint. His subsequent raises next winter and in the 2022-23 offseason will now be based upon a higher starting point thanks to today’s ruling. He’ll be a free agent following the 2023 season.
With Happ’s salary now set in stone, the Cubs’ 2021 payroll is set at about $157.8MM, per Roster Resource’s Jason Martinez. It’s possible that they’ll make another late addition or two — the Cubs inked Brandon Workman to a $1MM deal earlier in the week — but substantial changes appear unlikely. President of baseball ops Jed Hoyer stated early in the week that he’s not engaged in any trade talks and generally expects the current core group to remain intact come Opening Day.
Good for him!
Though I’m not sure how broke Ricketts will be able to pay for it…
Disappearing ink on Workman’s contract and an awkward convo.
Happ is good hitter and walks too. Maddon kind of messed him around playing him off and on and all over the infield and outfield. He looks like a keeper now.
I use to like Maddon, but I’ve come to believe that he might be the most overrated manager in history. I get liking versatility, but it got to the point where I think he picked batting positions out of a hat.
He deserves it. He was the only guy who showed up on offense for us this season…
Thought Heyward did pretty good too.
Heyward still exists?
I’m looking at it another year of mediocre play and he could get released if he wins arb again for $7m + next year. I’m in the minority but I just don’t see the production for that kind of money.
The going rate used in analysis for wins added was $7M or more. He was good for 1.4WAR last season. This means the Cubs have received more bang for their buck last year and would anticipate the same for this year. They will use him up and spit him out the same as they plan to do with the pending FAs this year. The trade deadline could get very ugly for the current roster.
Disagree with you. Happ was the best player on the team. Deserves every penny.
Agree. Not sure if people actually watched the Cubs last year. The improvement the last 2 years has been noticeable and I think there likely is the ability to get even better
I’m going by the traditional stats and my eyes. Granted I didn’t see too many Cubs games last year. My argument is of course young major leaguers who play well will outperform their contract. It’s the nature of the beast. However through his four years, his average yearly stats just don’t seem impressive and like I argued Benny should have been traded last year, I see the same thing for Happ. Trade him now because next year his contract will in my view be underwater.
Happ is now just coming into his prime as others said he didn’t get the at bats he deserved the first few years. He is a keeper
Yankees were willing to take him in the Chapman deal. Epstein said no way. Our top in prospect? More homers than doubles? More Ks than hits? He’s a basket(Wrigley feature) shot guy. Now the baseball is going to be deadened by as much as 5 percent. He’s the future for Cubs? Go Sox!
I’m looking at it another year of mediocre play and he could get released i
He has a .879 OPS the past two years, nominally plays CF, and has a bWAR/650 4.1 over the past two years.
If he has a .879 this year, at any OF position, there will be 29 teams looking to sign him. If the Cubs released him at 10:00, he could have a contract by 10:05.
Joe. I just don’t get it. I said in my original comment I was in the minority.
Jhey did too
His reps must be good
Good on him, glad to see he finally got regular playing time last year. Keep him in there, he is what he is, but not all middling BA sluggers are obsolete.. and his BA may not be middling for long if it starts to complement his OBP.
First Cubs arbitration loss since Shawon Dunston in 1990.
Indeed, that is true, but the Cubs only had three hearings during that period – Justin Grimm in 2018, Ryan Theriot in 2010, and Mark Grace in 1993. In the history of salary arbitration, the Cubs have a record of 5 wins and 3 losses. The other Cubs players to go to arbitration are Andre Dawson, Leon Durham, and Bruce Sutter. Dunston, Sutter, and Happ are the three players who won.
I learned something new today. Thank you for posting these tidbits!
Ed Edmunds I enjoy your posts. Keep them coming..
Thanks, That justifies for me the many hours I put in annually following arbitration.
In nurse follars
According to baseball prospectus the Cubs last year paid 3.5 million dollars for each win tanking them 15th. By comparison three playoff teams ranked in the top four most efficient spenders based on wins cost alone, Tampa, Cleveland and Oakland. $157 million is a big payroll spent poorly. The dodgers came in ahead of the Cubs at $3.1 million (14th) and won a trophy.
I’m so Happ-y for him.
Good one. 🙂
1 for the good guys! Congrats.
so embarrassing SF Giants owners arguing over $600K with Solano. Charles Johnson is the worst…
Ian happ might improve slowly but he keeps improving. Ppl have unreal expectations of baseball players. Its a ludicrously hard sport to play.
Ever see a kid hit a bottle cap with a broomstick? D.R. That’s where the talent is streaming from. Kids here are honing their playstation skills while being driven to soccer practice.
This must be the exciting news he’s planning to share on his podcast!
Please Hoyer get Jeffries back that was are best Relief pitcher under 0ressure last season
Good press would be get RP Jeffries back in the fold are bullpen can be are strong suet we must be better at something.
Why does everyone call him Jeffries? lol
I like Jeromi Jeffress 🙂
Happ is a converted infielder. He is in the outfield due to performance issues at second and third. He is one of the slowest outfielders in the league. A mediocre choice for the centerfield position. At the plate he exhibits good contact strength; among the best in the league. His strikeout habits returned at the end of 2020. Wait and see.
I believe he was playing injured towards the end of the year, and doing what he could to carry the rest of the struggling team.
I’m not sure how Happ secured a $4.1 million payday based on his track record. Yes, Happ was great most of the year last year but his over all numbers fell back down to his career average and has played in 118 games in his past two seasons.
Landing $4.1 million when Baez, coming off a second place finish in MVP voting, only signed for $5.1 million is a bit confusing to me. I figured he would be closer to the 3 million range.