Chicago Cubs prospect Ian Happ has been part of trade rumors amid the team’s slow start. Should the Cubs trade him for big league help or keep him for the future?
Making a contender, or continuing to improve one, requires different actions. Valuable pieces that can help with both are minor league prospects. Teams have two uses for them: breed them into becoming their next contributors, or trade them away for big league talent. The Chicago Cubs have done a little of both, and they have a decision on which route to take with their top prospect Ian Happ. On one hand, Happ is tearing up Triple-A. On the other, he could be a valuable trade piece for the Cubs to improve their roster in hopes of a repeat.
Teams are always looking to improve right now
MLB teams are always looking to improve their rosters during the season to make a push for a World Series championship. The Cubs did it last season with the acquisition of closer Aroldis Chapman. In fact, if you look at past champions, many of them have made trades before or at the trade deadline to acquire a key piece to add to their roster. It is a move that can make or break a team at times. The best way to get big-time MLB talent is to give up a prospect with a lot of potential. It is a high-risk deal that can propel a team to where they want to be. It can also hinder the future if the prospect pans out and the big leaguer doesn’t.
That leads us to the question about the Cubs. Should they trade Ian Happ to get a major piece for a championship repeat? With their early struggles, speculation is running wild. The truth is, Happ is a big-time talent according to his production in the minors. This season with Triple-A Iowa, he has six home runs in 11 games to go along with a .310 batting average. He just seems to be getting better, also. He struck out five times in his first four games, but has only whiffed once in the last seven.
To trade him would be a desperation move this early in the season, as the Cubs have viable options at almost all positions. What would they trade him for? Relief help? Starting pitching? The Indians traded an incredible amount for reliever Andrew Miller last season by shipping prospects Justus Sheffield and Clint Frazier to the Yankees in exchange. It almost got the Indians a championship. Time will tell, though, if they gave up too much.
No reason to stockpile prospects if they can’t be used
On the other hand, when will Happ get his time to become a regular big leaguer? They have Ben Zobrist and Javy Baez who can play Happ’s current position of second base. If that is the mindset, then by all means trade him. The Red Sox traded Manuel Margot for Craig Kimbrel and it didn’t hit them too hard on account of their outfield depth, which is quite impressive. There is no reason to keep a player in the minor leagues when help can be acquired for him. He can help another team in the future, while at the same time bringing in some talent that can help Chicago now.
Happ may not be in the Cubs’ future plans
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Happ, while being a top prospect, probably isn’t in the Cubs’ plans for the foreseeable future. He is originally a third baseman, a position manned by reigning National League MVP Kris Bryant. His current position of second base is being held down by two reliable big leaguers.
The Cubs have a ton of young talent playing in the majors. Their team is set to keep building and improving for years to come. Happ could potentially be stuck in the minors if he stays. With a trade, the Cubs could acquire another starter that could eventually be the key to another title run.
A prospect like Happ is usually a gem a team holds onto. With the amount of young guys the Cubs have, he has become expendable in the best possible way for the Cubs and for himself. The best option is to trade him at this point. If he wants to break into the big leagues and play consistently, it will be with another club unless an injury to key Cubs says otherwise.
The Cubs have other options in the farm system they can groom instead of Happ. Happ is the most ready to make his big league debut, making him the most likely piece in a trade to bolster their pitching. All signs point to Happ going elsewhere.
It’s the right move for right now
Weighing all of the options, it shouldn’t hurt the Cubs, who have done a great job with producing talent now and for the future. While the move doesn’t need to be made just yet, expect the Cubs to shop him around closer to the deadline. Pitching is always a necessity, and the Cubs could use some. The perfect piece to acquire the missing link to a repeat is Ian Happ. Time will tell how he will end up in the majors, but with the talent the Cubs have now, they won’t be missing out.