Why the Cubs kept Willson Contreras, Ian Happ

Why Cubs kept Contreras, Happ at trade deadline appeared first on NBC Sports Chicago

Stunning? Surprising? Shocking?

Pick any of those words and it would be an understandable reaction to Willson Contreras and Ian Happ remaining Cubs after Tuesday’s MLB trade deadline.

After weeks of lingering rumors, speculation and even emotional goodbyes, the Cubs kept their two All-Stars and top brands — who took the field Tuesday at Busch Stadium for a series opener against the Cardinals.

Was the opportunity lost?

“No, I wouldn’t say that,” Cubs president Jed Hoyer said after Tuesday’s deadline.

Hoyer didn’t do much to explain why they didn’t trade Contreras or Happ — not even with the sudden availability of Juan Soto impacting the market — other than they didn’t get what they were looking for in offers.

As for Contreras, the Cubs have long been expected to trade him in the midst of this lost season to recoup his value before he becomes a free agent this winter.

The Cubs can give him a qualifying offer this offseason, which would get them a compensatory draft pick if he signs elsewhere.

“Like last year, I think we were willing to hear if somebody gave us a piece that could really help our future,” Hoyer said. “We never crossed that line.

“Wilson is a valuable player. He’s been a great Cub for six years. We never got to that place where we felt comfortable doing a deal to end his tenure here.”

Happ is under club control through 2023. While prospects around the league have expressed interest in him, the Cubs have always had the option to kick the can down the road in a potential trade or even a 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 months before they were set to become free agents.

It takes two to tango, and the Cubs weren’t going to trade Contreras or Happ for him unless they were offered what they considered fair value.

“We talk about building the ‘next great Cubs team,'” Hoyer said. “We’re trying to do this based on very good prospects.

“Just trading players to say you have prospects you don’t believe in or don’t find very talented, that doesn’t do anything great. We never found offers that exceeded the value of the players we had.

“When we did, I think we made some deals. I think we have really talented arms,” Hoyer added of the Scott Efross, David Robertson and Mychal Givens trades. “But I feel like in some of the other markets, buyers had incentive A.”

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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 is sympathetic to that and plans to meet with both players on Tuesday night or Wednesday. He was unable to immediately after the deadline because of his proximity to Tuesday’s game against the Cardinals.

MORE: Cubs’ Hoyer feels ’emotional toll’ on Contreras, Happ

Whether last year’s deadline moves influenced the feeling that Contreras was certain to be traded, which Hoyer mentioned, the Cubs weren’t operating with that mindset.

“I’ve been in contact with his agents all month,” Hoyer said. “We never sent any message to anyone that said, ‘We will trade him at any cost.’

“Obviously we were going to discuss him with teams, and if it makes sense for the Cubs, we will. I think he knew that, but obviously I think there was an assumption based on last year that we would. “

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