Chicago Cubs: 3 cheap trade targets to add pitching depth

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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J.A. Happ Toronto Blue Jays
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With the Toronto Blue Jays out of contention, J.A. Happ is likely on the move.

The Cubs acquiring J.A. Happ from the Toronto Blue Jays has been rumored for awhile. In the top-heavy American League, the Blue Jays are nowhere near the playoffs. Out of the hunt and with Happ’s contract expiring at the end of this season, the Blue Jays should be motivated to move the 2018 first-time All-Star.

Happ’s 4.18 ERA doesn’t do his 2018 campaign justice. His 10.26 K/9 rate is by far the highest of his career, resulting in a Skill-Interactive ERA (SIERA) of 3.50 and a Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) of 3.84. Both the SIERA and FIP are advanced sabermetrics that attempt to assess how well they actually performed and Happ’s numbers are both well above league average. His strikeout percentage and his strikeout to walk percentage are both 15th best among all qualified starters this season.

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Debuting briefly in 2007 and 2008, Happ has plenty of experience pitching in meaningful games in a playoff race, as well as pitching in the postseason. Throughout his career, Happ has made 10 appearances in the postseason, pitching to a tune of a 3.72 ERA. In his most recent playoff appearances in 2016, Happ started two games for the Blue Jays in the ALDS and ALCS, compiling a 2.70 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in 10 innings.

Lading Happ in a trade isn’t the marquee deal that acquiring DeGrom or Archer would be, but due to his impending free agency, he’d only cost the Cubs some minor league prospects. He wouldn’t demand near the return that some of the flashier names would.

A lefty veteran with postseason experience could be exactly what the Cubs need right now.