Cubs reportedly looking for veteran outfielder … Ian Happ could be on the verge of being sent down to Iowa
Even with four regular outfielders, plus Ben Zobrist, Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras, the Cubs are believed to be looking for a veteran outfielder that can play all three spots, especially late in games as a defensive replacement.
The Cubs have two excellent defenders on the roster in Albert Almora Jr. and Jason Heyward. But Joe Maddon has, for some reason, refused to hand over the everyday centerfielder’s job to Almora Jr. Without a doubt, the record of this inconsistent Cubs’ team would be a lot worse if it was not for Almora Jr.’s defense in center. The Cubs put a high-value on defense and have started Heyward regularly despite his lack of offensive production. Yet, Almora Jr. continues to lose playing time to Ian Happ, who is both struggling at the plate and is not a centerfielder.
The Cubs are believed to be looking for a veteran outfielder that can play all three positions. And provide Maddon with a reliable option off the bench for defense late in games. The Cubs had a player, according to Bruce Levine, similar to what the front office is looking to acquire, in Peter Bourjos on the roster in the spring. But after the Cubs let him go, he signed on with the Braves and recently inked a minor league deal with Atlanta after he was cut to stay in the organization.
Ian Happ is a defensively liability, whether he’s in the infield or outfield. Like Kyle Schwarber, if he can out-hit his mistakes in the field, then he can still help a team win ballgames. Right now, Happ’s development is being stifled due to lack of consistent playing time.
Entering Sunday night, Happ was hitting an anemic .240 with a .288 OBP and only a .688 OPS. Add in the fact that he is swinging a missing at a beyond alarming rate (36 strikeouts in 80 plate appearances), Happ should be sent down to Iowa to work on a list of things and regain confidence that he has obviously lost.
Whether the Cubs are able to find a veteran to help the team, at least defensively, should not keep them from sending down Happ in order to get him pointed back in the right direction.
It is early in the season and there is a lot of ball left to be played. With that being said, the Cubs have to work on controlling the few aspects of the game they can. Catching the baseball is one thing that a majority of the players on this team can do extremely well. Adding defensive while putting a good, young player in a position to succeed moving forward, should be toward the top of the front office’s early season priority list.