Yankees could wait until the trade deadline to acquire star Cubs left fielder

ian happ, yankees
Oct 1, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Cubs left fielder Ian Happ (8) bats against the Cincinnati Reds during the first inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have one of the more disappointing position battles unfolding in left field this upcoming spring training. General manager Brian Cashman failed to find a legit competitor, signing a few low-level free agents to compete alongside Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Cabrera, and Estevan Florial. Rafael Ortega and Willie Calhoun will earn reps this spring, but I wouldn’t expect them to provide legitimate competition.

Hicks and Cabrera are the likely front runners, given Cashman’s words of motivation this off-season. Hicks has noticeably gotten a bit more attention, despite the Yankees trying to off-load his contract before the start of the 2023 campaign. However, there is a genuine possibility that the team will look to acquire an outfielder at the summer trade deadline to help them down the stretch, similar to what they did with Andrew Benintendi last season.

Benintendi ended up breaking a bone in his wrist, shutting him down for the postseason ad ultimately hurting the team’s potential in the ALCS against the Houston Astros. Going in a similar direction makes sense since the Bombers won’t have to give up a significant number of prospects, and they will be able to find a quality outfielder to help plug the position.

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The Yankees should consider making a move for Ian Happ:

One of the more intriguing targets is Chicago Cubs star Ian Happ. At 28 years old, Happ will be a free agent in 2024, meaning the Yankees could acquire him at the deadline with just a few months left to help down the stretch.

The Cubs could eventually let Happ walk at the end of the 2023 season, so his value won’t be very high with just two months left on his contract if the Yankees want to scoop him up and plug left field with a legitimate All-Star caliber talent.

Last season across 158 games, Happ hit .271 with a .342 OBP, 17 homers, 72 RBIs, 23.2% strikeout rate, and 9% walk rate with a 120 wRC+. Offensively, he’s an absolute monster who can hit 20+ homers in Yankee Stadium as a switch hitter.

Defensively, Happ recorded 13 defensive runs saved in left field last season across 1233.1 innings. Given his excellent defensive metrics and elite offensive qualities, this would be a tremendous addition for the Bombers late in the year to help them push toward a World Series.

It is fair to mention that Happ only has eight games of playoff experience in his career, but he hit .333 with a .412 OBP over that small sample size. Aside from the outfield, Happ also has the qualities to play multiple infield positions, including first base and second base, but the Yankees won’t need him in that role. He has over 1,600 innings of experience in centerfield, which could be helpful if Harrison Bader were forced to miss any time.

While it still may cost the Yankees a decent prospect in return, given his quality, it would be 100% worth it if he helps them reach the World Series. In addition, it would give them the first rights to extend him before the off-season, which certainly is a far better move than trading the farm for a player like Bryan Reynolds of the Pittsburgh Pirates.