Ian Happ would be a good fit for the Mets

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.

22 comments for “Ian Happ would be a good fit for the Mets

  1. Eraff
    November 28, 2017 at 11:40 am

    Happ is a Built in Zobrist and Heyward replacement…young and cheap and massively talented, with MLB Production.

    Injured arms and a very expensive 5th outfileder …???? I don’t think that gets it done

    • Jimmy P
      November 28, 2017 at 12:53 pm

      No, it certainly doesn’t.

      Lagares is just an overpaid glove. We’d be unloading a bad contract.

      Since we’re stuck with him, it could be argued that the best way to deal with the contract is to accept it and start him in CF. Hope it works out. Spend that spare money elsewhere.

      I don’t know what they are thinking about 1B. Adam Lind makes sense as a platoon with Flores, perhaps, but he doesn’t pair with Smith. Are the Mets really going to give up on this kid already?

      I think Mets could use a 1B/OF RH-bat, though I don’t know who fits that description off hand. Wouldn’t be too expensive. Then maybe you spend at 2B and bullpen and see about reclamation projects in the Dice-K mold.

      What a mess. It’s like a finger puzzle with a couple of tiles missing. You keep sliding the pieces but now holes suddenly appear. The biggest problem is payroll at this point; they don’t seem willing to get it done properly, but that’s an old story with the Wilpons. Big splash with Cespedes, then cut too many corners elsewhere.

      But back to Matz, this just repeats the old threads about “chips” and the one about Matz in particular. He simply has no value now relative to what he could be, should be “worth” if healthy. In any trade at this point, we’d be selling him for pennies on the dollar. A bad move.

      All these guys need to establish health and achieve success on the mound before the Mets can move them in any meaningful trade. That includes Wheeler and Harvey, and to a lesser degree, Lugo. I don’t think a Lugo trade would survive the X-ray process, frankly. Who trades for a guy with a torn labrum? You take fliers on guys like that, you don’t trade for them.

      Happ is a #9 overall who hit 20+ HRs last season with a SLG over .500. He’s 23 and he can run, too. And makes nothing. The Cubs aren’t eager to give that away.

      OTOH, a healthy Steven Matz, pitching in an All-Star Game, proving himself as one of the top LHP in baseball? That’s a guy teams would want — and very probably an astute guy to flip due to the injury history.

      But he needs to climb the hill every 5th game. To date, it’s never happened.

      BTW, the Mets are thinking specifically about Matz, Wheeler, and Lugo when they talk about that 3rd time through the order phenomena. The 6-inning starter who gets 32 starts and gives you 180 innings.

      180 is the new 200.

      I’d sign up for it today.

      • MattyMets
        November 28, 2017 at 1:19 pm

        Jimmy P – I love the finger puzzle metaphor. If the Mets had 40-50 million to spend instead of 30, this would be an easier puzzle to solve. Btw, Lugo has a partially torn UCL, not labrum.

        • Jimmy P
          November 28, 2017 at 3:34 pm

          Noted, thanks.

      • HarryH
        November 28, 2017 at 3:05 pm

        Matz, is he a 150 innings guy or a 100 inning guy, that’s the big question. Same question could be asked about Harvey and Wheeler.

  2. Eraff
    November 28, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    “Ignoring” Smith and sending him back to AAA to break down a door is not exactly exile for a 22 year old. Smith had an inflated 380 BABIP in Vegas. I see a talented hitter…an unfinished player. The late season profile should allow him to very directly address his own development….and his Body.

    Pitcher Health would thread the needle they need to compete—Smith is not ready to play on a Contending team 1st day of 2018

    • Chris F
      November 28, 2017 at 2:44 pm

      yep. Its not like he’s 26. SNY had a interview with Smith yesterday. It was interesting.


    • Jimmy P
      November 28, 2017 at 3:40 pm

      If that’s the plan — too bad it’s in Vegas.

      But nonetheless, then Lind makes sense paired with Flores. He’d come pretty cheap, signed for $1.5 last season and hit well, it’s true, but still 34 years old and can’t touch a LHP.

      And the investment would be small enough that Smith could break down the door with a strong first half in AAA.

      But again: Too bad it’s in Vegas.

      And that’s the assumption, right? That the Nationals are going to stay in Syracuse for one more year, even though it’s owned by the Mets. Am I correct on that?

      • Chris F
        November 28, 2017 at 5:03 pm

        The Nats have an agreement to be in Syracuse through 18. Even with an ownership change, I cannot see them being able to evict the Nats, unless they were to voluntarily up and leave. Maybe David has a better grip on one team owning another team’s minor league club.

        “Press Release | December 18th, 2013

        The Washington Nationals today announced the signing of a four-year Player Development Contract extension (which begins in 2015) with the Syracuse Chiefs of the Triple-A International League through the 2018 season.”

        • Jimmy P
          November 29, 2017 at 9:18 am

          And again, to be very clear: Nobody wants to be in Vegas.

  3. HarryH
    November 28, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    Like your thinking. If only Sandy would think that way. Matz and Lagares for Happ is a great deal.

    • Chris F
      November 28, 2017 at 3:28 pm

      for the Mets, but the Cubs would be nutty to make it.

      • John Fox
        November 28, 2017 at 5:00 pm

        Your probably right Chris, I do think Happ would be an excellent fit for the Mets and the Cubs management has indicated they could trade him, but they would probably want more than Matz and Lagares.

        • Name
          November 28, 2017 at 10:09 pm

          I seriously doubt the Cubs are serious about trading him. You don’t trade away 1st round picks 2 years in unless you’re an idiot like Dave Stewart. Plus we know how much Maddon loves the util type players.

          But if we wanted to try, i believe the Cubs might want a replacement for Davis.

          Matz + Familia or Ramos + B-level prospect might bring them to the table.

          • TexasGusCC
            November 29, 2017 at 12:28 am

            Ramos and a B level prospect would make me say “which one and we’re done”, because Ramos and say Guillorme or Oswalt would be my pleasure, both if they prefer!

            • Name
              November 29, 2017 at 1:13 am

              Guillorme and Oswalt are more like C-level prospects.

              I was thinking more along the lines of either of our 1st round picks from the last 2 years – Peterson/Dunn. Or if they wanted someone raw but with upside like one of our big money international Latin signees this summer (Mauricio/Hernandez)

              And in case you’re wondering, the Mets don’t have any A-level prospects to bring to the table. They would have if they kept Smith in the minors, but now he’s been exposed and now an afterthought on the prospect scene/trade market.

              • TexasGusCC
                November 29, 2017 at 2:18 am

                I thought of Dunn… I’d do it. Dunn and Ramos for a power hitting second baseman with the control. Done!

                • Jimmy P
                  November 29, 2017 at 9:25 am

                  I’d do Ramos and Dunn for Happ in a second.

                  I don’t think it’s enough to give in this case, though they do make tantalizing chips.

                  I’m not in love with Ramos and don’t like his finicky cat routine. He likes to close, doesn’t love the 7th inning, etc. Mets need flexible relievers. This guy runs too hot and cold. I’d flip him now and sign two free agent arms for the pen who will be with Mets beyond 2018 season.

                  When Ramos is on his game, btw, wow. Incredible stuff. But I think he’s a flake.

  4. Eraff
    November 28, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    OK.;… I don;t know Happ well…but if he’s a top shelf talent: deGrom for Happ, a 2nd high prospect, and a young far away arm. That’s how a Contender trades a young talent for an established Arm

  5. Eraff
    November 29, 2017 at 8:27 am

    seriously Guys…. I expect this kind of Baby Talk on other discussion boards. Again, I’m not vastly familiar with Happ, but #9 overall picks who hit 25 homers within 24 months of being drafted fetch Big Hauls—a now for Later Swap that would include very well extablished players–

    deGrom is the Single Met who matches…and he’d probably Bring Happ+++++ other guys. It would be an RA Dickey type of trade

    aplogies for what may be perceived as harsh criticism

    • Jimmy P
      November 29, 2017 at 9:36 am

      The disappointing thing is that guys like Matz, Harvey, and Wheeler were all going to be “trade away” options that would bring back talented prospects. That was the plan.

      Time is running out on Harvey. Maybe at the deadline. And maybe Matz and Wheeler can recover health and thrive as 6-inning pitchers; I actually think that’s very possible if the arms hold out. In a year, Mets could flip one.

      I’m saying, they could be our “deGrom” chip.

      To me, I keep Jake and Noah. If you trade Jake, you are giving up on next 2 years and going full rebuild. Mets aren’t ready to do that.

      And again, if ownership would fully commit, the Mets could be strong contenders in 2018. If they are only half-in, shooting for meaningful games in September (nowadays that only requires a .500 record), a shot at WC2, then it’s tempting to back up the truck.

      Sidenote: I wonder what the Wilpons are learning about ticket sales. I know I dropped my plan this year. I bet I’m not alone. If a lot of people opt out, they (historically) tend to get scared and feel compelled to “do something” to appease the fanbase. I wonder if they feel like they are in that corner right now.

      They always confuse the cart for the horse. We can’t spend until the team gets better. We can’t spend until the fans come and revenue rises. We had a down year so we have to cut costs (after slashing $20 million mid-season).

      They don’t get it, or, they just don’t have enough money to properly run a baseball team in NCY. Selig should have booted them when Madoff went down. Instead he put them on artificial support.

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