Predictions #2: Cubs ink Ian Happ to an extension
Essential to keep in mind here that as we grow weary of the Ian Happ situation, the truth is that Jed Hoyer and crew have still yet to begin arbitration talks this winter. Though the Cubs have several outfield prospects that could produce at the major league level, Happ is already producing. He is integral to this team's success in 2023 after being awarded an All-Star nod and Gold Glove last year. To move him away from Chicago as he enters his prime is about the most counter-intuitive logic the front office could have at this point. Especially with such an emphasis on competing now, losing an all-star at this juncture in hopes that a prospect can turn out to be what Happ has already become is a giant leap in the wrong direction.
Hoyer knows that. He is undoubtedly aware that if Happ produces again in 2023 like he did last season, he will rightfully be owed a substantial payday. We've also seen the Cubs miss on several key bats in free agency this winter, so it's not as if players are easily replaced. Eventually, you must adapt to the times to continue fielding a competitive product, even if it means paying more for a player than you otherwise wanted. As I've mentioned before, I also envision the scenario that the two respective sides wait until September before the season's end to agree on a more fair price over a larger block of work. I don't think Hoyer is gun-shy to pull the trigger on a Happ extension, especially with the money being freed up after 2023, but instead wants to feel more confident that this is the new and improved Happ and that he's here to stay.