The Cubs just finished off a three-game sweep of the San Diego Padres this weekend at Petco Park.
In the series Hand blew a save in the ninth with two outs, but Chicago still surely recognizes the value of the left-hander.
Brandon Morrow is doing a solid job as the teams closer, but there is always room for more relievers on a championship quality team. There is no doubt that the Cubs covet Brad Hand. That cannot be debated.
The real question is- who can they offer to the Padres that will entice them to part with Brad Hand, who is the teams only all-star.
The San Diego Padres are in no real rush to deal Hand and that is where things get complicated. Hand is signed for two more years and has an option for the third year. If acquired, you are looking at over three years of service time from a closer in their prime. The asking price is steep and rightfully soon.
In Chicago, it is all about that World Series title. The team is built to win now. They are built to win in 218. In their Championship season of 2016, the team dealt super prospect Gleyber Torres to the New York Yankees for a few months of Aroldis Chapman. Torres was considered a can’t miss prospect and so far he hasn’t missed in his rookie year with the Yankees, where he was named to the MLB All-Star Game.
Don’t get me wrong. In Chicago, you will find nobody complaining about Torres being dealt. You will not find anyone angry about the fact that Chapman promptly re-signed with the Yankees after living up to his obligation with Chicago. Cubs fans hold that long-awaited World Title in high regard. The front office in the Windy City is not afraid to pull off a deal if it means strengthening the major league team. They could be at that point again soon.
Brad Hand would help the Cubs, but their system is not what it used to be and the Padres probably aren’t too excited to deal Hand for a package of prospects. The Padres are reportedly looking for young, talented major league type players that are under team control for a while. The Padres have some money invested in veterans and they have a great nucleus of talent arriving soon as well. Adding established major leaguers who are under team control for a while is probably a wise idea.
Looking over the Cubs roster, there is one player who stands out as a potential trade candidate for San Diego.
Ian Happ was the Cubs first round pick in 2015 (9th overall) out of the University of Cincinnati. The switch-hitter can play multiple positions on the diamond and could settle as a third base option for the Padres. The 23-year-old has a very nice ceiling, but does not quite fit on the Cubs roster presently. This 2018 season, he has been rotating mostly in all three outfield positions and third base (when Kris Bryant was banged up). Happ can also play second and first base.
.256/.379/.453 is Happ’s batting line this season in 82 games, where he recorded a .832 OPS for the Cubs. Ian Happ is an excellent player and a player who is under team control for a long time. For the Cubs, a proposed deal would surely strengthen their bullpen, but Happ has proved to be very useful all over the diamond for the club. In offsetting his loss, the Padres could provide the Cubs with players like Cory Spangenberg, Carlos Asuaje and Travis Jankowski. None of the three players figure to be in the long-term plans of the Padres, but do have some potential at the major league level in a complementary role. The Cubs could enjoy their flexibility, all while riding Brad Hand in the eight and ninth inning of games.
Ian Happ for Brad Hand is a good basis for a deal to get started. Where it goes from there is anybody’s guess. The Padres would probably prefer to lighten their 40-man roster load, so I could see other names in the deal for sure. The Padres have flexibility with prospects to also tilt a deal in their favor if need be. These two sides have had plenty of discussions in the past, but nothing of real relevance has happened. The 2018 trade deadline could be the year where that all changes. They are already talking. Where there is smoke… there is usually fire. Ian Happ, anyone? Is he enough to deal a successful left-handed closer? Stay tuned.