Quick Bit: The bear hug in the dugout between Willson Contreras and Ian Happ on Tuesday afternoon sure felt symbolically like watching Cubs fans preparing to bid farewell to the final pieces of the 2016 World Series championship team.
The bear hug in the dugout between Willson Contreras and Ian Happ on Tuesday afternoon sure felt symbolically like watching Cubs fans preparing to bid farewell to the final pieces of the 2016 World Series championship team.
Yeah, it sure was emotional.
A year after the trade-o-rama sent Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez out of Chicago, Cubs fans are braced for yet another sell-off. This one might not be as dramatic, but if it happens it will be the final coffin nail on that 2016 World Series afterglow.
Here are five soon-to-be-ex-Cubs.
Willson Contreras, C
Need to know: He might not be a youngster at this point in his career — he turned 30 in May — but Contreras is still one of the best catchers in the bigs. His on-base percentage this season is higher than his career number (.373 to .352), his OPS+ is higher than his career number (136 to 115) and with 14 homers it’s possible he could reach his career best (24). He runs better than the average plodding catcher, and he’s an exceptional influence and mentor in the clubhouse.
Contreras, who is a free agent after the season, has spoken openly about his desire to stay in Chicago, but those words haven’t been followed by any action on the part of the Cubs’ front office. Trading him instead of offering any sort of reasonable extension seems to signal the front office doesn’t view this team as being on the cusp of contending, but rather that another rebuilding situation is at hand. Which is, of course, completely inexcusable for the Cubs, with all the resources they have in hand. But that’s a different topic.
Ian Happ, OF
Need to know: You’ve probably heard a lot about Happ’s positional versatility and how that makes him attractive as a trade target for lots of teams. And that’s true — kind of. It’s not quite the same as his former teammate Kris Bryant, who could have been a full-time starter at either corner infield spot or in the outfield. Happ is an outfielder at this point in his career. Since the start of the 2020 season, Happ has started exactly four of his 300 games on the infield. He’s started games in his career at second, third and first base, and could be called on for those spots in a pinch. That certainly provides value, but it’s not like any team is going to trade for him and make him their starting third baseman. He can play center field in addition to the corner spots, which is probably more important to teams considering a Happ trade.
Happ is under club control through the end of the 2023 season, a final year of arbitration eligibility. He’s making $6.85 million this year and will see a nice boost for next year. He’s having his best season in the bigs; he already has a career-best 2.9 bWAR, to go with a .366 on-base percentage and 127 OPS+. His power is down a little bit, with only nine homers in 95 games, after 25 in 148 games last year.
David Robertson, RP
Need to know: The Robertson signing raised plenty of eyebrows when announced by the Cubs, mostly by people who were surprised that he was still in the league. The right-hander threw a total of 18 2/3 innings in the bigs from 2019 to 2021, posting a 4.82 ERA for the Phillies and Rays. But he’s been fantastic for the Cubs, racking up 50 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings, with a 1.83 ERA and 0.992 WHIP. He has 14 saves, but five blown saves, too.
Robertson, 37, signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract with the Cubs. So which contender could use a cheap, effective reliever with lots of late-inning experience (151 career saves)? Yep, every single one of them. He won’t command an elite prospect but the Cubs will have lots of interested teams asking about him.
Drew Smyly, SP
Need to know: The veteran lefty, who has a 3.93 ERA in 13 starts this season — including three after coming off the IL in mid-July — is the exact type of pitcher contending teams love to have on their roster down the stretch. He can pitch in long relief, but he can also fill in as a starter when needed to give guys in the rotation a rest or to step in on a double-header day. Smyly is being paid $4.25 million this year, and the contract has a club option for 2023.
Mychal Givens, RP
Need to know: Again, every contending team is looking for bullpen help for the stretch run, and Givens is a solid, veteran bullpen arm. He has 49 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings this year, with a 2.72 ERA and 3.95 FIP. Will he bring back a big return? Nah. But he would certainly help his new team.
Originally found on Sporting News Read More