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Meet the Sellers: Chicago Cubs

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Photo credit:Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Brennan Delaney
6 months ago
Remember when the Cubs won the World Series back in 2016?
Well, it’s not 2016 and the Cubs now suck. Therefore, they’re featuring on today’s Meet the Sellers.
Like with every single article in this series (since Ryu went down), we’ll be focusing on a position player of need, a starting pitcher and a high leverage reliever.

David Robertson:

Starting with the high leverage reliever, we have the 37-year-old David Roberston.

Statistics:

I won’t lie, I don’t remember David Robertson when he played for the Yankees. Hell, I don’t even remember hearing his name.
Either way, the elder reliever has put up pretty impressive numbers as he has a 2.10 ERA and a 3.37 FIP in 34.1 innings pitched this season. He also gets quite a lot of swings and misses, as he has a K/9 of 11.80. While his BB/9 of 4.46 is on the rather high side, his career BB/9 stands at 3.64.
Speaking of which, Robertson certainly has a track record as well. He’s pitched 710 innings in his career and has an ERA of 2.89 and a FIP of 2.88, quite impressive. His career K/9 is currently at 11.93, so you can tell it isn’t just a one off like Aaron Loup, the reliever we looked at in the last article.
Swing and miss doesn’t always come from velocity, which you can tell by watching Robertson. His cutter only averages 93 mph, yet it has so much spin (100th percentile according to Baseball Savant) that batters can’t hit it.
Not just that, but his 85 mph curve is in the 73rd percentile in terms of spin rate.
While he doesn’t get a ton of chases outside the zone (16th percentile) and he struggles with walks, he would slot in as a high leverage reliever on the Blue Jays.

Contract:

Robertson is making $3,500,000 this season and will be a free agent when the 2022 season is up. This salary would barely make a dent in the Blue Jays payroll. The team has an estimated $171,638,294 in payroll, so Robertson’s contract would fit in nicely

Positional need:

While the walk rate may be worrisome, you can deny that Robertson would help with the lack of swing and miss in the bullpen. As an expiring free agent on a really bad team, he’s definitely going to be traded. I could see him going for rather cheap, sort of like how the Jays got Hatch when they traded Phelps in 2019.

Drew Smyly:

If the Jays decided to trade for a back end of the rotation guy, Drew Smyly may just be that option.

Statistics:

Smyly hasn’t had a great season in 2022, as he’s posted a 4.43 ERA and a 4.67 FIP in 44.2 innings pitched. However, he does limit the walks (2.22 BB/9) while owning a K/9 of 7.05, a career low. What he’s lacked in strikeouts this season, he’s made up for in ground balls, as he has a career high 47.9% ground ball percentage.
While his K/9 isn’t too impressive, his career totals stats sit at 8.84, so that tells me that he’s either reinvented himself to get more ground balls, or his K/9 should bounce back soon. His career ERA sits at 4.19 while his career FIP sits at 4.31.
Smyly was also a part of the Atlanta Braves when they won the World Series last season. He posted a 6.14 ERA in 7.1 innings pitched, but his FIP of 3.99 was much better. The lefty had a K/9 of 9.82 and BB/9 of 2.45 in that short span.
His fastball that he throws 26% of the time sits at 92 MPH. His cutter sits at 88 mph and he throws it 30% of the time. His last pitch is a curveball, which he throws 42% of the time at an average of 78 mph.

Contract:

This season, the 33-year-old is making $4,250,000 with an undisclosed mutual option for the 2023 season. Due to his age and his track record, the Cubs would be able to get a solid haul, but nothing too special for the 33-year-old lefty.

Positional Need:

I haven’t seen anyone point this out, but since both Ryu and Kikuchi are down, the Jays don’t have a lefty in their rotation. This could lead to game planning issues, as a team with a bunch of left-handed batters could potentially feast on Jays pitching.
Kikuchi may come back in the rotation, but as I’ve stated, please no. Drew Smyly would be a cheap alternative as a back end of the rotation starter.

Ian Happ:

Finally, we’ve come to the outfielder and the guy I think the Jays are most likely to get from the Cubs, Ian Happ.

Statistics:

Ian Happ is arguably the Cubs best player this season as he’s slashing .280/.373/.456 in 357 plate appearances. He’s also added nine homers and has a wRC+ of 131. 
He’s done a great job limiting the strikeouts, as his K% sits at 21% for the season, well below his career average. He’ll also take a walk, as he has a BB% of 11.8%. This all leads to a career high 2.3 fWAR and we haven’t even hit the all-star break yet.
In terms of his career numbers, he has a career slash line of .248/.343/.465 in 2154 plate appearances. His 21% K% in 2022 is impressive, considering he has a career K% of 29.2%, but it could be said that the 27-year-old is still improving.
Happ’s prior best season came in 2020 where he posted a .258/.361/.505 slash line in 231 plate appearances. Happ’s wRC+ sat at 130, but he struck out 27.3% of the time.
Defensively, he has a 3 Defensive Runs Saved and a -1 Outs Above Average  in left field this season. He played 12 innings in centre field, posting a 1 DRS and 1 OAA in the small sample size.
For his career, he has posted an 8 DRS and -1 OAA playing in 1617 innings in left field. In centre field, he has a career -5 DRS and OAA in 1626 innings, so it’s safe to say he’s better defensively in left field.

Contract:

Ian Happ is making $6,850,000 this season, but the soon to be 28-year-old has an extra season of arbitration for 2023, which means he’s under team control for a playoff run and a full season. If I had to guess what he’d be awarded for the 2023 season, I’d assume it’d be between the $10-$12 million range, but it all depends on how he finishes the season.

Positional Need:

I think it’s without question that the Jays need a left handed bat. Ian Happ checks all those boxes. He’s under team control until the 2024 season and his salary won’t make a huge dent in the payroll. Not just that, but Happ has been hitting for average and he’s still improving.
If the Jays trade for Happ, I can see them platooning him with Gurriel in left field or DH’ing one of them.

Are the Cubs an ideal partner:

The Cubbies know their place, a team that needs to rebuild for the future. They have quite a few players on expiring contracts and they’re looking to capitalize in a seller’s market. The Jays may look for a different starting pitcher, but I think if Happ and Robertson are available, the Jays should look to get both of them.

Previously in the series…

Cincinnati Reds
Washington Nationals
Kansas City Royals
Detroit Tigers
Miami Marlins
Los Angeles Angels
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D. Next up in the series will likely be either the Arizona Diamondbacks or Colorado Rockies.

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