Chicago Cubs: 5 bold predictions for the regular season

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5 bold Cubs regular season predictions: #3 - Cubs trade Ian Happ at the deadline after Brennen Davis lights up Triple-A pitching

It can't all be sunshine and rainbows, folks. The Cubs are, no doubt, trying to force their way into the expanded postseason picture in 2023. But the focus can, and should, be on building a sustainable winner on the North Side, which might force the front office into a 'thread the needle' scenario when it comes to balancing the short and long-term priorities.

Although the Cubs got an extension done with Nico Hoerner, no such progress was made with All-Star outfielder Ian Happ, despite his reported willingness to take a hometown discount on a deal. If he replicates his performance from last year, when he earned his first All-Star nod and a Gold Glove in left field, he'll hit the open market as arguably the most valuable position player not named Shohei Ohtani.

Barring an in-season extension between now and July, I could see the Cubs shopping Happ ahead of the trade deadline - but if the team is in contention, I think such a scenario is contingent on top prospect Brennen Davis being healthy and putting up big numbers at Triple-A Iowa. If Davis shows he's back on track and ready to impact the big league roster, trading Happ becomes at least a little more palatable.

Switch-hitting, Gold Glove-winning outfielders don't grow on trees, though, and I'd like to see Happ stick with the Cubs. But I'm trying to set realistic expectations here and there's just no way the front office is content with a compensatory draft pick as opposed to what they could get via trade (although I said the same thing about Willson Contreras last summer, so do with that what you will).