Chicago Cubs: Latest report connects J.A. Happ to the North side

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs have been one of the best teams in baseball, despite several starting rotation woes. With late July quickly approaching, the front office may look to the trade market to acquire a healthy starter.

The Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers remain neck and neck atop the NL Central heading into the middle of July. Over the coming weeks, both ball-clubs will explore the trade market in hopes of acquiring talent that will give themselves the edge over one another.

Specifically for the Cubs, the primary target via trade would be pitching, whether it be for a starter or reliever. In order to make a deep postseason run, it is essential to have a plethora of arms to rely on in high leverage situations.

In regards to starting pitching, the Cubs have had some unfortunate performances from Tyler Chatwood and Kyle Hendricks over the first half of the season. Additionally, the $126 million man Yu Darvish has been out since May 20th due to right triceps tendinitis.

Today’s report from Bob Elliott of the Canadian Baseball Network is one of the first preliminary interest rumors that has arisen involving the Cubs, and it would directly address the issues that have stemmed from the starting rotation:

Interestingly enough, this reported interest in J.A. Happ aligns rather closely with what the Cubs President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein, said in a recent interview with Barry Rozner of the Daily Herald.

"“You’re always looking to fortify and to add a little bit. You always have Plan B and Plan C in case of injury or really bad performance, but there’s no way we’re going to go out and acquire starters the caliber of a locked-in Kyle Hendricks or a locked-in Jose Quintana.”"

Is Happ a good fit?

The 35-year old lefty from Toronto fits the mold as a starter that shouldn’t command an absurd return in the trade market. Happ is under contract for the rest of this season at a modest $13 million salary and should this deal unfold, the Cubs may be able to figure out a way to stay under the luxury tax threshold for the season if Toronto eats the necessary salary to do so.

Happ is known as a consistent starter that doesn’t walk a ton of batters (2.9 BB/9 in 2018). He would instantly bolster the Cubs rotation with the absence of Darvish and the ineffectiveness of Chatwood.

When Darvish returns from his extended DL stint, the team would face some questions in regards to the rotation since there are only five (possibly six) slots.

Mike Montgomery has shown that he has the talent to be a consistent starter for the team. However, if the Cubs were to add Happ, Montgomery would most likely head back to the bullpen and serve as the long-reliever/lefty specialist role. Not to mention, if Chatwood’s struggles continue, he may be on the way to the bullpen as well to get things under control.

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Overall, adding talent for a reasonable asking price is something that every front office executive should seriously consider. If the Blue Jays aren’t asking for a haul in return for Happ, Epstein and Co. should have him near the top of their trade deadline targets, simply due to the need and importance of that position group.