The Chicago Cubs are in line for an active offseason. If so, these five players could be on the move.
If the season ended today, the Chicago Cubs would be the second Wild Card in the National League. Winning the NL Central is still a possibility, as they trail the St. Louis Cardinals by two games entering Monday with seven games left against their chief rival.
But it’s not been a season without discord on the North Side. Most recently, team president Theo Epstein expressed frustration with the team’s up and down play and more particularly the division rival Milwaukee Brewers surging back into the Wild Card race as the Cubs play in an uninspired” fashion. On the heels of Epstein’s comments the Cubs swept the Pittsburgh Pirates over the weekend, while outscoring them 47-15.
Another layer to the Cubs’ situation is the status of manager Joe Maddon. He is still without a contract for 2020, and any downturn in the team’s play this season has brought speculation he’ll be allowed to leave.
For his part, via Patrick Mooney of The Athletic (subscription required), third baseman Kris Bryant lamented all the distractions around the Cubs this year. Trade rumors have surfaced regarding he and some of his teammates, and of course Maddon’s status has been in question.
Everybody in this clubhouse is human. When you start hearing things like that, when Joe starts hearing things like that, myself included, you start thinking a little bit. The past four years, none of that has happened and it’s just kind of been we’re cruising along.
The Cubs have the second-highest payroll in baseball this season (north of $218 million), and right now for 2020 they sit in the same spot. If their postseason run is short again, perhaps a Wild Card game and done, some changes may be coming.
On that note, with Maddon’s status as skipper in the background of it all, the Cubs could move any or all of these five players this offseason.
5. Ian Happ
Happ started this season at Triple-A Iowa, and hit just well enough (.242/.364/.432, 16 home runs, 53 RBI) to earn a call-up in late July. In 45 games since that promotion (entering Monday), he has posted a .215/.298/.430 slash-line with six home runs and 18 RBI while being used at multiple positions (outfield, second base, first base and third base).
Happ is somehow still just 25 years old. So the Cubs can sell the idea of his untapped potential, to go with four more years of team control that is sure to start out very cheaply.
Happ doesn’t seem to have any place in the Cubs’ plans, even as a multi-position utility player to replace looming free agent Ben Zobrist. So trading him now, while there may still be a perception he can reach his potential, has to be on the radar.