‘Weight off my shoulders’: Willson Contreras and Ian Happ are still Cubs

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras watches his triple against the St. Louis Cardinals during the third inning of a baseball game Tuesday in St. Louis.

AP Photos

ST. LOUIS – The rest of the team was on the field taking batting practice when Cubs manager David Ross walked into the clubhouse to find Willson Contreras and Ian Happ and give them the news: The deadline had passed, and they hadn’t been traded. 

They hugged each other and hugged Ross.

“There was a lot of weight off my shoulders,” Contreras said after the Cubs’ 6-0 loss to the Cardinals on Tuesday. “Today was a long day. I was really anxious to see what was going to happen.” 

Said Happ: “I’m happy to still be here. Crazy couple weeks. Emotional days at Wrigley, emotional days here.”

In the end, the Cubs made five trades in the days before the Tuesday evening deadline, sending Chris Martin to the Dodgers, Scott Effross to the Yankees, David Robertson to the Phillies, Mychal Givens to the Mets and minor-league infielder Dixon Machado to the Giants. In return, the Cubs bolstered the pitching side of their farm system and added utility player Zach McKinstry. 

Happ, who is under club control through next season, said he’d known there was a chance he’d get traded but didn’t think it was going to happen until momentum, rumors and reports of interested parties started to pick up in the last couple weeks.

Contreras, in his last year of club control, had the example of the Cubs trading Anthony Rizzo, Javy Báez and Kris Bryant at last year’s deadline, when they all were in a similar situation.

“So, as a human being you just assume things,” he said. 

The uncertainty of his situation clearly weighed on him.

“I just want this to be over,” Contreras said Sunday. 

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In one sense, it is over. Contreras knows where he’ll spend the rest of the season.

In another sense, it isn’t quite. There’s still free agency this winter, as long as Contreras doesn’t reach an extension with the Cubs. This spring, he described testing the market as  “a dream come true” if that doesn’t happen. 

At the time, Major League Baseball and the MLB players association hadn’t yet ruled on the fate of the international draft and qualifying offers, which they tied together in negotiations. Now, it’s decided: The international draft isn’t on its way, and the qualifying offer system is here to stay, at least for now. That’s bad news for Contreras.

A qualifying offer suppresses a player’s market because any team that signs him will lose at least one draft pick. Contreras would have been ineligible for a qualifying offer at the end of the year if he’d been traded.

Instead, the Cubs went the opposite way of last year, when Hoyer presented the deadline …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun Times

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