So let’s talk about Ian Happ and the fork in the road he finds himself at. On one hand, you have a player who seems to be the talk of trade town at least once a season when he underperforms, but then manages to completely flip the script and becomes a candidate for a contract extension instead. Regardless of which path he winds up taking, the inconsistencies in his game have to level off – and he’ll get the chance to show he can do that with the Chicago Cubs here in 2022.
Even though it isn’t a contract year for Happ, in many ways it almost feels like a ‘prove it’ season, regardless. Clearly, he has extreme stretches of lackluster performance followed by ridiculous hot streaks that have him going from looking like one of the worst to one of the better players in baseball. For the front office, it becomes maddening to see somebody with so much potential struggle so much from time to time because in the end you have to do what’s best for the team. With Happ’s situation and the prolonged hot streaks he does go on however, it only makes a decision for the front office on what to do with him that much harder.
We’ve watched Happ ride these highs and lows since he came into the league five years ago. He carries a .241/.338/.467 slash line – far from the worst, but equally far from the best, across baseball. Last season, he turned in a .226/.323/.434 line. That mark is actually lower than his 2018 mark which served as a catalyst for him starting 2019 back in Triple-A Iowa.
Still, when he got consistent at-bats following the trade deadline, everything changed. He snapped his season-long slump and was finally consistent on a daily basis. That is exactly why right now is a fork in the road for him. Had he not finished strong, I’m not 100 percent sure he is still a Cub today. Regardless, he will have this year to prove himself. If he stays anything close to what we saw in September, he will be sticking around. If not, let’s look at three of the top candidates that could be looking to snatch up the young switch-hitter’s services.