On the heels of the recent extension agreement between the Cubs and second baseman Nico Hoerner, Patrick Mooney of The Athletic checked in on the status of negotiations with the other Cubs hitter who found himself in the extension rumor mill this offseason: outfielder Ian Happ.
No extension got done ahead of Opening Day between Happ and the Cubs, through president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer noted that the sides has “really productive and really cordial” negotiations in the run up to the start of the season. While Hoyer refused to say negotiations had come to an end, he admitted to the difficulties of negotiations during the season, saying, “I know how hard it is to perform, in general, and having negotiations going on can be really difficult for some guys, so I respect the fact that guys won’t do it.”
Happ, who Mooney notes is not only the team’s representative to the MLBPA but also advised Hoerner during his extension negotiations with the Cubs, is set to become a free agent at the end of the 2023 season. He sports a career wRC+ of 115, and though his 120 mark from last season isn’t far off from that figure, he considerably changes his approach at the plate last season. Though he sacrificed some power, posting a career-low .169 ISO, he cut his strikeout rate down to just 23.2% from his career 30.8% mark headed into the 2022 season. Should Happ be able to replicate his 2022 performance this season, he figures to join the likes of Matt Chapman and Teoscar Hernandez as among the best bats on the free agent market this offseason not named Shohei Ohtani.
More from the north side of Chicago…
- Cubs relief prospect Ben Leeper, 25, underwent surgery on his arm yesterday, as the player noted himself on his Instagram account. Maddie Lee of the Chicago Sun Times notes that the procedure was Tommy John surgery, which will cause Leeper to miss not only the entire 2023 season but likely a significant portions of the 2024 season as well. Leeper, who signed with the Cubs as an undrafted free agent following the 2020 draft, posted a 3.11 ERA for the Cubs in 81 innings of work over the last two seasons split between the Double-A and Triple-A levels. Leeper figured to make his MLB debut sometime this year, but this news will scuttle those plans until 2024 at the earliest. The Cubs still have several depth options in the minors for the big league bullpen this season, including Jeremiah Estrada, Brendon Little, and Rowan Wick.
- According to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, outfielder Seiya Suzuki figures to get a pair of at-bats in a rehab game in Arizona today, though he will not play the field. Suzuki started the season on the injured list with an oblique strain and figures to join the big league club sometime this month. Suzuki is entering the second year of his five-year, $85MM contract with the club. In his MLB debut season last year, Suzuki slashed .262/.336/.443 in 446 plate appearances, good for a 116 wRC+. The right-handed slugger is regarded as one of the most important hitters in the lineup for a Cubs team looking to make a surprise run at contention after signing Dansby Swanson, Cody Bellinger, and Jameson Taillon this offseason, and a healthy season from him will be key to the club’s fortunes this season.
- Cubs reliever Brandon Hughes will begin throwing tomorrow, according to Bastian. A converted outfield prospect, Hughes impressed in 57 2/3 innings of work out of the Chicago bullpen last season, posting a 3.12 ERA, good for a 132 ERA+. While that top line run prevention number is impressive, and Hughes posted a solid 28.5% strikeout rate against an 8.8% walk rate, he also managed to leave a whopping 87.7% of runners on base last season, in large part thanks to his deflated .233 BABIP in spite of a groundball rate of just 33.8%. Given his problems with balls in the air, it’s no surprise that his FIP was a whopping 4.64 last year. Still, the Cubs figures to be a lock for the Cubs’ bullpen once he’s healthy, particularly given the club currently has no left-handers in its bullpen.
No one wants happ besides the cubs, let’s be real.
I think most teams would consider Happ to be a left field upgrade.
The Braves and the Yankees would be at the front of the line. Both teams are rotating a mish mosh of misfits in LF. Happ is an everyday solution for either team, and he’s not gonna break the bank.
Remember though, the GM wannabe unclemike, was taking Hoyer to task – for not trading Happ. And unclemike was recently saying Jed really messed up by not ‘taking his advice’. OK docmike.
He did mess up. He would of got more for him in the off season with a whole year of control for another team. They’re either going to trade him at the deadline for nothing, Let him play all year and (1) Let him walk, Or(2) make him a QO for more than twice what he’s making this year and he’ll probably take it. Thus blocking somebody. None of those are really good options.
Sorry doc, you’re writing off the year already. I’m not even close to that mindset. Ricketts finally made an investment in this team, for this year – and you threw in the towel before it even began.
I’d hate to have you on any team I’d be on.
Who’s to say Canario or Davis isn’t getting it done at the deadline and not worthy of a call up? Maybe Tauchman is getting it done. Why is trading an obstacle like Happ giving up on the season in any way? Still not too bright huh? Plus who knows what they may or may not need at the deadline. You? LOL
I don’t think the braves could trade any more up and coming players (especially given the rotation scrambling going on right now). Teams have weaker spots. That’s ok. Having Rosario, Ozuna, and Pillar, they are likely to get at least one league average year of production, if not better. I suspect one of them will take the job and it will work itself out. Happ would be nice to have but Rosario could end up being just as productive if all goes right. As I said many times if you give him last year as an off year because he couldn’t see well, the only time he was unproductive in his career really was for 2/3 of a season in Cleveland, which was his first change of team in his career which can be hard sometimes. They said he couldn’t even see the ball well a foot away in soft toss drills last year.
Rishi-I know I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer but Huh?
Did I stutter?
Have you tried clicking on baseball reference? Assuming you disagree about Rosario. If you have three LF that have all been quite productive in the relatively recent past then is it a bad bet that one of them will be league average value (when they have all 3 been significantly better than league average value before)?
Well- Happ would be way better than any of the 3 guys you mentioned. Plus for 2 months of Happ wouldn’t cost that much because the Cubs motivation would be to clear some salary to maybe pick up a reliever without going over the tax line. Not sure what Rosario being half blind has to do with anything because as much a fan as I am of hiring the handicapped a blind baseball player would be a crazy thought. Would he need a dog? Does he get extra seconds over the 8 every one else gets? Do we need a beeper ball? I’m not sure I’m ready for that.
Because he had surgery, it is relevant. He is seeing fine. He homered multiple times in WBC for whatever that’s worth. I assume happ is more valuable too but he isn’t that much better than Rosario in a good year. Rosario has had many good years. Idk. Do you not acknowledge that he has had decent years? 32hr? 27 hr? 15 triples? He is a good hitter when healthy. Ozuna is capable of being good but idk if he will ever be again. Pillar has been quite valuable many years. He is a good fielder. Rosario was only bad defensively in RF but is near league average as a LF
If you took away Rosario’s 2022 he has played 7 years with a 13 War and Happ has played 6 with an 11.
Idk if Dock_Elvis was responding to me in part but his description of Happ is an exact description of what Rosario did in 21′ in the postseason.
I have been hoping the Yankees would get him since his prospect days. Still can’t figure out why Cashman didn’t package Chapman and Miller to the Cubs. They needed a relief ace badly and Theo surely would have jumped at giving the prospects it would have taken to get the 2 best available. He wanted that championship. Unfortunately, Cashman fell in love with Clint Frazier’s bat speed and we know how that turned out. He probably would have wanted Jimenez instead of Happ and Cease to include Miller. At the time Cease was only seen as a solid mid rotation prospect. He would have allowed them to pass on Rodon which would have been nice. Thankfully, he took 2 highly touted prospects from the Indians a team well known for poor talent evaluation and they have Sheffield as their co-ace and Frazier seamlessly transitioned into LF after Gardner was finally shown some respect and allowed to retire his way. Those 2 finally ended their decade+ championship drought. Everyone knows Theo never gave up his best prospects. Cashman looking like a genius in hindsight yet again.
Cease was a fairly high touted prospect pretty quickly. He had pretty much immediate success in Minors and was consistently above a K per inning at every level.
Happ is a winner. He’s the piece a competing team always has under their 1st tier of stars. The one that has an unlikely post season run and wins a post season series MVP. Not flashy. But sneaky the way so many players on those every other year Giants teams were a decade ago.
The writer of this article failed to mention that this is the third Tommy John surgery for Ben Leeper.
I’ve never really understood the distraction factor of having your agent in negotiations for the contract you desire over the course of the 6 month baseball season. I assume it just means you missed your boat I’m on to the free agency bidding, but you could just be real and say that
Yeah, I think they set the beginning of the season as an artificial deadline to get a deal done so that both parties can turn the page. I’m sure deals have been agreed to, but I can’t think of many/any that have been done between April and July on the last year of a deal.
But I have always rolled my eyes at the narrative that negotiations can’t progress into the season. It’s not like Happ is unaware that he’s in his final days of playing for the Cubs.
Just let go of Happ and collect the draft pick extension. Pete Crow-Armstrong, Kevin Alcantara and Brennen Davis are all top 100 prospects that project to arrive this season or next. The team will survive his departure.
*draft pick compensation
Do you realize that when you look at mlbs pipeline, the “eta” is simply when a player needs to be added to the 40 man to protect them from the rule 5 draft?
I say that because Alcantara hasn’t played above A ball and PCA A+. The odds of Alcantara making it the bigs in 2024 is a stretch, PCA is more likely but still not set in stone.
I don’t have much faith in Davis, maybe he will prove me wrong but his strike out rate is alarming. Canario is a guy I like a lot and figured he would be in the mix at some point this year before he got injured.
With the DH and CF being open, a five year extension for Happ wouldn’t be off the table. Canario, Davis and PCA are all capable of playing CF (as is Alcantara), Suzuki will only have three years left after this season meaning that he could be dealt after 2024 if two of the prospects push their way onto the roster by then.
With that said, I don’t think the Cubs are competitive this year or next so dealing Happ at the deadline makes sense. I like Happ, he’s a nice player but he isn’t what the Cubs need. They need a guy who makes a larger impact, not tying up money on a “nice” player.
There is zero mention of ETAs in the official rules from MLB.
The rules is quite simple. Players signed at 18 or younger need to be protected within 5 years and 4 years for players signed at 19 or older.
Adding all 3 to the 40 man roster will also protect them. Davis has already reached AAA and Armstrong and Alcantara will almost certainly reach AA by the end of the year. Teams routinely add prospects to the 40 man for spring training.
No, the ETAs on mlb pipeline is when the player needs to be added to the 40 man. It has nothing to do with where they are in their developmental process.
Alcantara and PCA will need to be protected which is why their ETA is 2024. Canarios ETA was last year despite not playing above A+ ball.
There are some exceptions, such as Mervis, whose eta is this season but didn’t need to be added but for the most part that’s how it works.
Again, it would not be shocking to see all three in camp next season. I’m sure the team fully expects this outcome. These are not the players that will be “on the bubble” regarding the rule 5 draft.
Camp? Are you talking about training camp?
If you look at the top 30 prospects list for each team on MLB, It specifically says ETA which clearly means when they’re expected to debut. Personally I don’t agree with most of them but PCA should be here in May 2024 after his sell by date passes like Mervis this year. Canario should be here next year to take Happ’s place even if you don’t like Davis who I also have doubts about. I also think Caissie is much closer than anyone gives him credit for and is a good LH power bat. I wouldn’t want Happ blocking any of them.
But would dealing Happ leave ’em hapless?
I can’t comprehend how Happ can be a free agent already at the end of the season when I don’t really recall his presence on the team prior to 2019 or 2020.
2017, played most of the season. Got sent down in 2018 for half the season. Been up for good in 2019.
Doug Dascenzo's Mob Boss Dad
Mentioning Ian Happ in the same sentence as Shohei Ohtani is an insult to Ohtani.
“Mentioning Ian Happ in the same sentence as Shohei Ohtani is an insult to Ohtani.”
Not an insult. Not even a comparison. Perhaps you should read the sentence again:
“Should Happ be able to replicate his 2022 performance this season, he figures to join the likes of Matt Chapman and Teoscar Hernandez as among the best bats on the free agent market this offseason not named Shohei Ohtani.”
Nobody would ever compare Happ to Ohtani. Plus, You can’t compare anybody to Ohtani because there really isn’t another player like him. It would be folly.
Doug Dascenzo's Mob Boss Dad
Mentioning does not mean the same thing as comparing. Do better.
Too bad about Leeper. Guy has a world of talent but can’t seem to catch a break health wise or opportunity wise. Happ’s not getting an extension and like the article says the Cubs have a lot of power arms in Iowa and Tennessee.
Did the scouts look before they leeped? Or did they just take a leep of faith? At any rate, he needs to take a giant leep forward. I he goes far enough, it might be a giant leep for mankind..
Look for the cubs to win 85 games this season. Happ is a nice player and not worth a large investment as his impact is more of an above average but not a star player. That said Heyward got 184m so who knows what will happen.