The Guardians figure to be busy during this year’s trade deadline, and Chicago’s Ian Happ could be a perfect target.
The Cleveland Guardians find themselves in contention in 2022 with a pressing need to move some prospect capital, which puts them in a great position for the upcoming trade deadline.
One target who could fit into this ever-revolving roster is Chicago Cubs infielder/outfielder Ian Happ. The 27-year-old is having a career year for a Chicago team going nowhere, hitting .289/.387/.467 with seven home runs, 15 doubles, five stolen bases, 32 RBIs and a 137 wRC+ in 225 at-bats. His plate discipline has greatly improved in 2022 as well, as Happ has increased his walk rate to 13.5% while reducing his strikeout rate to under 20% for the first time in his career.
For the Guardians, Happ becomes an intriguing proposition because he doesn’t become a free agent until 2024 and the switch-hitter can essentially play anywhere on the field. He instantly becomes a player that can fit into any lineup Cleveland imagines, accounting for injuries and the potential struggles of any of the young players that litter the Guardians’ roster.
What would it take for Cleveland to acquire Ian Happ?
The Cubs are in desperate need of just about everything at this point in their rebuilding process, and lucky for them, the Guardians can provide just about anything from a player standpoint. Cleveland, of course, has a glut of middle infielders in the minors, but Chicago – like any rebuilding team – needs pitching that will carry them into the future.
Right now, the Cubs’ pitching staff is in shambles. Kyle Hendricks, 32, has a 5.43 ERA in 13 starts this season, but Chicago is stuck with him through next season. Adbert Alzolay, who figures to be a fixture for the Cubs moving forward, has been out all season with a shoulder strain. Marcus Stroman is signed through 2023 as well, but that’s been a disastrous signing so far.
In other words, Chicago needs all the pitching help it can find.
Lucky, Cleveland can help in that department. Could a deal include a pitcher like Peyton Battenfield, who has a 2.82 ERA in 14 starts at Triple-A Columbus? Or maybe the Guardians dig deeper into the system, taking a look at their loaded Double-A rotation to help make a move. Gavin Williams, Daniel Espino, and Joey Cantillo are likely untouchable, but could the Guardians stand to part ways with a Logan T. Allen, Tanner Burns or Xzavion Curry as part of a larger package?
The other factor here is that the Guardians will once again be facing a 40-man roster crunch this upcoming offseason. Battenfield, Curry, and Cantillo are all eligible for the 2022 Rule 5 Draft, which could play into how the Guardians proceed in this season’s trade talks.
No matter who the front office is looking to target – Happ or otherwise – the team will certainly have the ammunition to get a deal done.