Cubs Expected to “Seriously Engage” Nico Hoerner and Ian Happ on Extensions This Offseason

In 2022, Nico Hoerner improved on the plate, solidified himself as an above-average defensive shortstop, and stayed wholesome for a lot of the season. Meanwhile, Ian Happ made huge enhancements to his contact price, basically improved his manufacturing as a switch-hitter, turned a Gold Glove left fielder, and obtained tabbed for his first All-Star staff. It was an amazing 12 months for each gamers.

Hoerner, 25, is below management for 3 extra seasons by way of arbitration. Happ, 28, is getting into his last season of staff management with the Cubs. It has lengthy been my opinion that each have earned extensions and that the Cubs needs to be completely happy to get that course of began.

And fortuitously, it feels like we’re weeks/months away from an trustworthy try, per Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney at The Athletic:

The Cubs are anticipated to significantly interact Nico Hoerner and Ian Happ — whose contract affords have been a formality — in discussions about long-term extensions this winter.

About a month in the past, Gordon Wittenmyer reported one thing related with respect to Hoerner — and Jed Hoyer additionally indicated that they may strategy some guys about extensions this offseason — however that is probably the most sure language we have seen to date for each Hoerner and Happ. It’s additionally a month later, which essentially makes this a brand new knowledge level.

Here’s what Brett had to say about extending Hoerner previously:

Hoerner, 25, has emerged this 12 months as an above-average bat, able to enjoying a number of positions, together with wonderful shortstop. He’ll be arbitration-eligible for the primary time in 2023, with two extra years to comply with. It’s only a very, very pure time for the Cubs and Hoerner to have the dialog: hey, need to lock in some assured cash in change for letting us lengthen you thru a few these free agent years?

The different cause for the Cubs to be very prepared to lengthen Hoerner proper now’s that you understand that doing so is actually not going to preclude you from doing the rest over the following a number of years, positionally or financially.

We obtained into it lots on the newest ‘Onto Waveland’ podcast, however my basic level was this: in the event you consider in Hoerner’s means to be (1) a gradual bat, and (2) able to enjoying nearly any defensive place if essential , then there’s completely no cause not to strive aggressively to lengthen him. No matter what model of the staff you formulate for 2024, 25, 26, 27, and many others., it is extremely probably that you’re going to have the ability to use a Nico Hoerner in a method or one other.

And within the meantime, you get in a cost-certain AAV on a 5 or six-year deal, at a really digestible degree since he is solely simply now reaching arbitration.

So? The man is 25, is already a frontrunner, has gotten higher with time within the huge leagues, and most likely has upside from right here. Extending good gamers is, usually talking, a good suggestion.

Meanwhile, Ian Happ has not made his love for the Cubs and town of Chicago a secret:

“I’ve been actually upfront concerning the reality I find it irresistible right here,” Happ stated, per the Tribune. “I can not say this one factor (successful a Gold Glove) goes to be a figuring out issue of that, however the entire 12 months, placing collectively (good stats) on the offensive and defensive facet and the consistency from either side of the plate, all these issues provide you with an opportunity to be someplace long run. And hopefully the worth you generate is appreciated by all people.”

“I hope so; I hope so,” Happ stated of a long-term extension, per NBC Sports Chicago.

Maybe you are not involved concerning the current accidents to Alexander Canario and Brennen Davis, particularly as a result of Happ is already below management for 2023 (when these guys could also be much less obtainable than anticipated). But these setbacks ought to function a reminder that you could’t simply depend on prospects to come up and save the day. Happ is in his prime proper now, and he made enormous, elementary modifications to his sport this previous season (which raised his ground as a participant). He additionally loves it in Chicago and needs to stick with the Cubs. Sometimes, you do not have to overthink it.

There is in fact a restrict to any supply, particularly guaranteeing new cash a 12 months out from free company, however I feel there’s most likely one thing that may be completed to depart either side completely happy. Or equally sad, as all honest offers find yourself.

I obtained into this a bit on Twitter about two weeks in the past:

The key distinction between the offers signed by Schwarber/Castellanos ($19M-$20M AAV) and the one we’re making an attempt to nail down for Happ is that Happ shouldn’t be but a free agent. Those two guys have been after they signed. So although Happ is a 12 months youthful proper now, you might have to issue that low cost into any potential extension. I have a tendency to suppose we’re speaking a couple of $16M+ common annual worth in any case, however it all relies upon on the years (and in the event you’re together with 2023 as a part of the calculus).

If you need to go shorter (2-3 years), I feel the AAV can have to rise into that $18-$19M vary, in the event you go longer (4-5 years), I might see it being nearer to $16M- $17M per 12 months. And keep in mind, Happ is already projected to make $10.6M in 2022. If you merely assure that quantity now, however embody it in his “extension” that may assist drive the AAV down, which might work for either side. For instance, the Cubs assure $10.5M for Happ in 2023 and tack on three years at $19M per 12 months. That’s a $16.87M AAV general, however $19M per 12 months in new cash. Maybe that makes everybody completely happy?

(Those numbers are full hypothesis, provided up as an illustration of the broader level, however I feel that is usually the vary we’ll be discussing).

The threat right here additionally works in each instructions. Maybe the Cubs aren’t dying to pay Happ after his first season of placing all of it collectively. That’s comprehensible. But if Happ repeats his success once more subsequent 12 months (a Gold Glove, switch-hitting left fielder with a 120 wRC+ and 3.5 WAR), he is going to get PAID as a 29-year-old free agent subsequent winter. That’s kinda the entire level of those extensions proper? The participant will get safety (however dangers the massive payday), the staff would possibly get a reduction (however dangers overpaying).

I feel Hoerner is (and most likely needs to be) the staff’s precedence, however I’d actually love to see each guys prolonged. And it sounds just like the Cubs are going to strive very quickly.

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