Cubs’ Ian Happ, an unlikely All-Star, is bracing himself for a difficult goodbye
Happ knows the end of his time at Wrigley Field might be an any-day-now deal — and that if the Cubs do get rid of him, it’s going to hurt like hell.
LOS ANGELES — Imagine being traded from Twitter to Facebook and having to leave Silicon Valley and report to New York all in one day.
No, really, Cubs All-Star outfielder Ian Happ is asking you to imagine it.
“How would that look for most people?” he said a day before his All-Star Game debut at Dodger Stadium.
Daunting? Frightening? Overwhelming?
Look, we’re just guessing here.
“I always use that analogy,” he said.
And why not? Happ, 27, is on a one-year deal with the Cubs and is one of their best players. Lately, that has meant either of two things: being shipped out at the trade deadline or non-tendered at the end of the season. The team’s No. 9 overall pick in the 2015 draft knows all too well the end of his time in blue pinstripes at Wrigley Field might be an any-day-now kind of deal.
And he knows that if the Cubs do get rid of him by the deadline Aug. 2, it’s going to hurt like hell.
“I grew up in Chicago,” he said. “I was 20 years old when I got drafted by the Cubs. I got there in 2017, have been in the city and made so many friends and connections with people. I really do view it as home.
“That’s what’s so tough with the deadline: You get traded, the next day you’re out. You don’t get to go back. You don’t get to say goodbye to people. You’re gone. You’re working the next day for somebody else.”
There has been no extension talk with the Cubs, according to Happ, a valuable trade chip because of his versatility positionally and as a switch hitter. As good as he has been this season — batting .274 and second on the team with 42 RBI — Happ still is in the running for lowest-profile All-Star in Tinseltown.
That he even got here is remarkable, considering where he has been. Happ regressed after a terrific rookie season, settling into modest production in 2018. He didn’t make the big-league team out of spring training in 2019, which blindsided him, then struggled at Triple-A Iowa before eventually getting it together and getting back to Wrigley in late July.
That stint in Des Moines toyed with him mentally for a while and gave him a taste of what living without the Cubs is like.
“Friends, teammates you’ve played with and fought so hard with — and then to have to go and watch them on TV?” he said.
Happ was a mess at the plate at this time last season, hitting in the low .180s with an OPS in the low .600s. Ironically, the 2021 trade deadline — when the Cubs waved the white flag, opening the floodgates of this rebuild — might have saved his spot in the big leagues. Or at least solidified it.
So to keep coming back — and now to be an All-Star — is really something.
“I’m trying to take every part of it in,” he said, “making sure that I enjoy every single second.”
And if the Cubs choose not to be in the Ian Happ business anymore? He’ll survive.
“As tough as it was to lose friends, those guys are all playing baseball and doing really well,” Happ said. “Joc [Pederson] is an All-Star, [Anthony] Rizzo has  homers before the break, Kris [Bryant] is happy where he is, Javy [Baez] is happy where he is.
“Guys end up being OK and playing baseball and still having a great time.