Cubs and Ian Happ avoid arbitration

The Cubs and outfielder Ian Happ have reached an agreement on a $10.85 million salary for the 2023 season to avoid arbitration, by Jon Heyman of the New York Post.

Happ, 28, has spent his entire professional career as a member of the Cubs organization. He delivered a strong debut campaign in the 2017 season, posting a .253/.328/.514 slash line good for a 114 wRC+ and a few Rookie of the Year votes while splitting time between second base and center field. The following season, Happ split time between the three outfield spots as well as third base, but stepped back offensively, posting a slant line of just .233/.353/.408 (106 wRC+) in 142 games with a worrying 36.1% withdrawal rate.

Happ spent much of the 2019 season at Triple-A Iowa working on his game and seemed to be making improvements by the time he came on in the second half: in 58 games that season he was down .264/.333 /0.564 (126 wRC+) while reducing his strikeout rate to 25.0%. Happ’s improved play continued into the shortened 2020 campaign, where he looked like a potential MVP contender at the start of the season before an injury in early September caused him to crumble. However, he managed a 132 wRC+ over the year after his shortened start to the season. This decline continued through the first half of the 2021 season as Happ reduced 0.193 / 0.296 / 0.330 in the first half, although a strong second half saw him push back his overall numbers of the season above the league average.

After a tough year in 2021, however, Happ was able to post the best full season of his career in 2022, and looked like a whole different hitter doing it. He posted a career-high in doubles, a low career strikeout rate, earned a Gold Glove after settling into a full-time role in left field rather than bouncing around the diamond like he had done this in the past, and even managed to correct his heavy platoon. separated from previous years, becoming a widely divided neutral player. It all led to his first career All Star appearance in 2022 and earned him more than $10 million in his final officiating trip this offseason, even narrowly beating the $10.6 million projection of the MLBTR contributor Matt Schwartz.

With Happ poised to become a free agent after the 2023 season, rumors of an extension have permeated throughout the offseason, with Happ and president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer reportedly looking to start talks. potential overtime before spring training, according to Maddie Lee of the Chicago Sun Times.

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