CHICAGO — All-Star outfielder Ian Happ appears poised to enter the season with an expiring contract after he and the Chicago Cubs were unable to agree on a new deal.
Happ said Wednesday he had “nothing really to report” and “no real comment on it.” He said he is not breaking off talks, but added: “That also doesn’t mean anything.”
Happ is eligible for free agency after the upcoming season. Chicago hosts the Milwaukee Brewers on opening day on Thursday.
The Cubs did lock in one key player, finalizing a $35 million, three-year contract with infielder Nico Hoerner on Wednesday. That contract begins in 2024. Hoerner is moving to second base after playing shortstop last season with the arrival of All-Star Dansby Swanson from the Atlanta Braves on a $177 million, seven-year contract.
“Super happy for him and that he’s really happy about how everything went down, about the fact that he’s going to be here with security,” Happ said. “That’s the most fulfilling part, as a teammate and a friend and having been so close with him for so long. Being able to watch just how excited he is to be here for the next three years is really cool.”
Happ, chosen by Chicago with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2015 amateur draft, made his first All-Star team and won his first Gold Glove last season. He set career highs in batting average (.271) and RBI (72) while hitting 17 home runs.
The Cubs had struggled to re-sign their players in recent years prior to reaching an agreement with Hoerner. They traded Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Báez at the 2021 deadline, and three-time All-Star catcher Willson Contreras signed with the NL Central rival St. Louis Cardinals in December to replace Yadier Molina.
“You play with other guys that end up other places and it’s OK,” Happ said. “It’s not the end of your career when you’re not playing where you came up. There definitely will be moments here and there. It’s appreciating that, appreciating getting to play with this group. Those are definitely the things that I learned the last two seasons.”