This season, Cubs outfielder Ian Happ will finish up his third year of arbitration and set up for unrestricted free agency this offseason.
Both he and the Cubs have remained relatively apathetic about reaching an agreement on a contract extension. But Happ reassured he wants to remain a Chicago Cub, ascertaining it "would be weird" to don another uniform other than Cubbie blue.
“Chicago's the place that is home for me and the only thing that I've ever known,” Happ said to MLB.com. “As a player who's only known this, you feel pretty at home in the organization and with the group. It would be weird to wear another jersey; I would love to stay here and I would love to be a part of the next great Cubs team, but we'll see.”
Happ's been a Cub for life. The North Side selected him with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2015 draft. He spent three seasons in the minors before having a permanent position in the Cubs' everyday lineup by 2017.
Since joining Cubs, he's flashed an impressive bat, holding a career .249/.339/.460 slash from the plate and mutating into one a well above-average outfielder in the league. He's played all over the field, wearing multiple hats; but his mainstay is in the outfield, playing most of his games in all three spots, mostly left field.
And ever since the downfall of the Cubs' historic World Series run in 2016, Happ's watched closely as the lynchpins of the organization have gone in the trade market. Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, etc.
Last season, Happ and Willson Contreras almost fell victim to the same path. The latter signed a lucrative deal with division rival St. Louis Cardinals in the offseason. The former is attempting to emulate a successful season he had amid the emotional whirlwind of trade rumors he experienced during the year.
“I think all the experiences you have in the game help prepare you,” Happ said. “The experience in 2021 of those guys getting traded helped prepare me for going through it in ’22, and then going through that process helped prepare me for any time in the future when I might be involved in those rumors. It’s all part of it.”
Happ is trying to show the younger guys how to play through adversity. The Cubs' top three prospects in their farm are outfielders – Pete Crow-Armstrong, Brennen Davis and Kevin Alcantara. He's shown them, and everybody watching, what he's capable of while facing daunting trade rumors.
In 2022, Happ slashed .271/.342/.440 from the plate, adding 17 home runs and driving in 72 runs. He earned his first career All-Star nod and first career Gold Glove, evidence of the peak he's reaching in his career.
“I take a lot of pride in this organization, what it means to wear the uniform for the city and the people that support us every day. I’m making sure that the young guys are doing the right things to represent the organization. It's important. It’s pretty cool to have come all the way full circle; it’s just the baseball circle of life.”