When the 2022 trade deadline approaches, the New York Yankees should be on a mission to give Anthony Rizzo a locker room buddy and double up the awkwardness any time the Bombers visit Chi-Town.
Because, even though the Cubs front office seems extremely enthusiastic about forgetting their past era’s exploits, the fans won’t.
Unfortunately, Chicago’s on-the-fly retool didn’t bear much fruit so far in 2022, and instead bred bad feelings, with Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez all opting to settle their free agent deals elsewhere, with very little conversation with their old bosses in the interim.
Now, the Cubbies sit well under .500, with their offense in the toilet and even Seiya Suzuki struggling to adjust after an initial period of dominance. Odds are high the team will shed assets again at the deadline, despite Marcus Stroman’s likely arguments against the maneuver.
Naturally, the Yankees should be eyeing Chicago’s roster, especially considering their high levels of familiarity with the available names and their recent dealings with the front office.
There isn’t much mystery this time around, though a few names we’ve previously pinpointed should probably be avoided; namely, Kyle Hendricks. Signed through 2023 with a vesting option for 2024 at an AAV of $13.9 million per year, the 32-year-old Hendricks is holding on tight to average production, but his underlying metrics show a pitcher struggling to limit hard contact. Matt Blake’s pitching factory can do better at a much lower acquisition cost.
Otherwise, two prominent names that have been kicked around in the recent past should still be considered, and while the Cubbies don’t have a veteran rental reliever on their roster, there’s a ‘pen arm the Yankees should request a meeting with.
3 Cubs who Yankees should pursue at 2022 MLB Trade Deadline
3. Ian Happ
After Ian Happ secured the 2021 season wrap-up and New York celebration podcast with Anthony Rizzo on the Jomboy Media Network, it seemed like a natural next step that Riz would either return to Chicago or recruit his ex-teammate to NYC.
So far, we’re halfway towards a second-half New York reunion, and the Yankees’ need for outfield depth is just as great as it was this offseason, when Happ could’ve been had at a slight discount.
Now, he’s rebounded in his age-27 campaign, manning left field while occasionally sliding to center as the result of a late-game adjustment. In 2021, Happ’s game logs told a very different story; he was relied upon in center more often prior to Suzuki’s arrival, and could theoretically slide into Aaron Hicks’ innings in the Bronx. He was a net negative defender in center last season according to OAA, but has rated positively in the past (+1 in 2019).
At the dish, the versatile switch-hitter has posted a 126 OPS+ through play on May 22, OBPing .389 and accruing 1.3 WAR overall. He’d be a positive addition, as well as someone who won’t require starters’ reps and will be under control through 2023 on an escalating-but-not-too-bad arbitration cost.
Happ likely should be a Yankee already, and would be an upgrade on the final bench spot or an excellent high-on-base fill-in for Hicks, in case the Yanks are miraculously able to offload that deal.