Cubs News: Everybody's HAPPy
David Kohl - USA Today Sports

Cubs News: Everybody's HAPPy

by - Staff Writer -

The Cubs announced recently that they had agreed to terms with all-star Ian Happ on a contract extension to keep him in Chicago through the 2026 season.

“The fact that I get to continue to be here, continue to be a Cub, and represent the organization means the world to me," Happ said to the media.

In my opinion, this is a slam-dunk move for Jed Hoyer and the Cubs.

The deal is for three years, after this season, and 61 million dollars. This keeps Happ on the Cubs through 2026 — meaning Happ, Nico Hoerner, Dansby Swanson, and Seiya Sujuki under contract for this season and the next three — giving the Cubs a strong core as they hope to build toward a contender.

Happ is currently 28 years old, and this contract will keep him in Chicago until after he is 32. The move appears to make a lot of sense for both parties. Not only do the Cubs get to keep Ian Happ, the team’s clubhouse leader and organizational representative in the player’s union — and all-star bat and gold glove defender in left field, but the deal still allows Happ, who is a savvy business mind, an opportunity to potentially get a crack at free agency with some of his prime still available.

Plus, the deal leaves a bit of flexibility in the outfield in the future for the Cubs, which is a nice thing to have considering Christopher Morel and top prospects like Pete Crow-Armstrong, Alexander Canario, Owen Cassie, Kevin Alcantara, and Brennen Davis are all outfielders.

The move did not break the bank, but it illustrated the Cubs’ desire to retain players that they hope to be a part of their next run toward a World Series.

Say what you want about the way that various careers have shaken out, but the last CORE of Cubs players were either traded in their last year of eligibility (Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez), released (Kyle Schwarber and Jon Lester) or just let walk (Willson Contreras) — and the only player left from the 2016 team is the only player that ever got extended: Kyle Hendricks.

Ian Happ has certainly come a long way since arriving in the big leagues. Happ was drafted in the first round of the 2015 MLB draft and made his debut during the 2017 season. Happ crushed 24 home runs and drove in almost 70 runs in his rookie year. In 2018 he followed his rookie campaign with a sophomore slump. Despite hitting 15 home runs, his batting average was just .233, and he struck out 167 times.

Happ was a versatile player and was drafted as a second basement. But in 2019, Happ was sent down to the minor leagues to work on cutting down his strikeouts and focusing on outfield defense — since playing time up the middle was scarce at best. Happ ended the 2019 season strong and carried that forward into the COVID-19-altered 2020 season, where he was the most productive Cubs bat — hitting 12 home runs and having an OPS of .866.

Then in 2021, the power was back as Happ hit 25 bombs — however, the batting average was as low as it had ever been at .226. 2022 was when everything changed — Happ became a Gold Glover in left field and an All-Star for the Cubs. Now, he’ll be doing that for the Cubs through the 2026 season. And this season, Happ is already off to a stellar start: slashing .349/.481/.628 with two homers and nine RBI in the young season.

A year ago, Cubs fans were worried, waiting to find out what team the Cubs would trade Ian Happ to midseason. Now, they can take a deep breath and know that No. 8 will be a Cub for years to come.

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