There are some question marks concerning the 2018 infield for the Mets, especially at second base. Conversely, the Chicago Cubs have an excellent young player who is a natural second baseman in Ian Happ. Happ actually played more in the outfield than at second in 2017, due to the presence of the acrobatic Javier Baez at second base for the Cubbies. The Cubs have a great infield but need more pitching. It seems like the Mets and Cubs could do some business.
Happ is a 23 year old who was drafted by the Cubs in the first round (ninth overall) of the 2015 FA draft. He made his MLB debut in 2017 and put up a slash line of .253/.328/.514, with 24 homers and 11 stolen bases in 115 games. That SLG number stands out, very good power for a second baseman. He does strike out way too much, with 129 K’s in 2017. You could say he showed a lot at the plate in 2017, and being so young he likely will improve even more over the next few years.
The current Mets options at second from the present roster include Wilmer Flores, Asdrubal Cabrera and T. J. Rivera, and Happ would be an upgrade over all of them. The Cubs stand to lose some of their starting pitching to free agency, including Jake Arrieta, and some others like Jon Lester are getting up in years.
Sandy Alderson has said the Mets would be open to trading some of their starting pitching for a position player. There were reports earlier this year in the Chicago Tribune and the CubsCrib website that the Cubs could consider trading Happ, presumably gaining pitching in return.
So, what would the Mets have to give up to get Happ? He won’t go cheap, being young with a huge upside. So here are some possibilities. The Mets would not part with either Noah Syndergaard or Jacob deGrom, and I doubt the Cubs would want Matt Harvey. Steven Matz might tempt them, if packaged with say Juan Lagares. Matz has shown he has good stuff, and his latest injury (ulnar nerve procedure) is one many players, including deGrom, have recovered from and rebounded to their previous form.
Lagares would be a good addition to the Cubs as a fourth outfielder, you might say he would fit like a glove into that slot. The Cubs are set with Kyle Schwarber in left, Albert Almora Jr. in center and Jason Heyward in right. But Happ was the fourth outfielder last year, and Lagares would be able to fill that role ably, especially with the defensively shaky Schwarber in left.
The Mets could offer Zach Wheeler and Lagares for Happ, and if the Cubs turn that down, they could up the ante and make the Matz and Lagares offer. Should the Mets be able to acquire Happ, they would get a young, speedy power-hitting ball player who could team with Amed Rosario to make a fine double play combination for many years to come.