Why Cubs Contreras Kept Happ To Trade TBEN Originally Appeared On NBC Sports Chicago
Astonishing? Surprising? Shocking?
Pick one of those words and it would be an understandable reaction to Willson Contreras and Ian Happ staying Cubs after MLB’s trading TBEN passed Tuesday.
After weeks of protracted rumours, speculation and even emotional goodbyes, the Cubs held on to their two All-Stars and top trade chips – taking the field at Busch Stadium on Tuesday for a series opener against the Cardinals.
“No, I wouldn’t say that,” Cubs chairman Jed Hoyer said Tuesday after the TBEN.
Hoyer didn’t explain much as to why they weren’t trading Contreras or Happ — not even regarding Juan Soto’s sudden availability impacting the market — other than not getting what they were looking for in offers.
As for Contreras, the Cubs were long expected to trade him during this losing season to recoup value for him before he becomes a free agent this winter.
The Cubs may make him a qualifying offer this season, which would land them a compensatory roster if he signs elsewhere.
“Like last year, I think we were willing to listen if someone gave us a piece that could really help our future,” Hoyer said. “We have never crossed that threshold.
“Willson is a very valuable player. He’s been a great Cub for six years. We never got to where we felt comfortable making a deal to end his tenure here.”
Happ will be under the control of the club until 2023. Even though contenders across the league showed interest in him, the Cubs always had the opportunity to clear the way for a potential trade or even contract extension.
Contreras, on the other hand, was in a similar position to Anthony Rizzo, Javy Báez and Kris Bryant last summer when the Cubs traded them a few months before becoming free agents.
It takes two to tango, and the Cubs wouldn’t trade Contreras or Happ for the sake of it and if they didn’t get what they considered fair value.
“We’re talking about building the ‘next great Cubs team,'” Hoyer said. “We’re trying to do that based on really good prospects.
“Just trading players to say you have prospects you don’t believe in, or don’t think are very talented doesn’t make anything great. We never found deals that exceeded the value of the players we had.
“When we did that, I think we made some deals. I think we have really talented arms,” Hoyer added about the transactions of Scott Effross, David Robertson and Mychal Givens. “But I feel like in some of the other markets, the buyers were A-motivated.”
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The past few weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster for Contreras and Happ as they faced the prospect of leaving the only organization they’ve ever known.
Hoyer understood this and plans to catch up with both players on Tuesday evening or Wednesday. He couldn’t make it right after the TBEN due to the proximity of Tuesday’s game against the Cardinals.
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Whether last year’s TBEN affected the feeling that Contreras would definitely be traded, which Hoyer pointed out, the Cubs didn’t work with that mindset.
“I’ve been in contact with his agents all month,” Hoyer said. “We’ve never messaged anyone thinking, ‘We’re going to trade it at any cost.’
“We obviously intended to discuss him with teams, and if it makes sense for the Cubs, we will. I think he knew that, but I think there was the assumption last year that we would. “
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