Despite having a superb Spring Training, infielder Ian Happ should not make the Chicago Cubs’ Opening Day roster.
Like recent top prospects before him, many view Chicago Cubs’ 2B Ian Happ as the next big thing. Drafted ninth overall in 2015, Happ has been absolutely tearing the cover off the ball in Spring Training this year.
In 20 games (40 at-bats), Happ is hitting .400 with 3 home runs and 11 RBI. Despite being second on the team in home runs this spring, there really is no room for Happ on the Cubs’ big league roster.
Happ presents an interesting situation for the Cubs due to his versatility. Last season, he played second, as well as all three outfield spots, in the minor leagues. For most teams, being able to play all over the field would make finding a spot for Happ easy. This is not the case for the Cubs.
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Since Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer joined the Cubs’ front office, the organization has become one of MLB’s deepest. In fact, every one of the team’s current starting infielders and outfielders are 27 or younger.
Blocked all around
Truly, the Cubs may have their starting lineup set for the next five or more years.
Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Javier Báez and Anthony Rizzo are under contract or arbitration eligible through 2021. Unless any of these players struggle or get traded, there is no room for Happ in the infield.
Similarly, Kyle Schwarber is arbitration eligible through 2021 and Jason Heyward is under contract through 2023. Albert Almora only played 47 games with the Cubs in 2016 and still is just 22 years old. While he hasn’t completely proven himself as a big leaguer yet, the team is invested in him for the next few seasons.
Happ is blocked by young Cubs players all over the diamond that have already enjoyed MLB success. Of course, any one of the aforementioned players could struggle at some point and create a need at their position. As of today, though, this seems rather unlikely.
At this point in his career, it feels like Happ’s debut will come if a Cubs’ starter goes down with an injury. For him to stay on the roster permanently, a current starter will have to leave the team. Unfortunately for him, the likelihood of that happening is low right now.
In the near future, the Cubs will have a decision to make on Happ and their other top prospects. Until then, all Happ and other top prospects can do is play well and hopefully receive the MLB promotion they deserve.