More Likely: IF/OF Ian Happ, Chicago Cubs
A deal with the Chicago Cubs centered around Ian Happ will be much easier to achieve because he’s a player the San Francisco Giants would be buying on the low on.
In 2016, MLB Pipeline had Happ ranked as their No. 21 prospect, which was ahead of some of the biggest names in the game today, including Aaron Judge, Cody Bellinger, and Josh Hader.
After a strong rookie season in 2017, Happ hit just .233/.353/.408 with a 36.1 percent strikeout rate last year. The Cubs sent him to Triple-A out of spring training to work on his approach and he has yet to appear at the MLB level this season.
The 24-year-old is hitting .231/.360/.417 with a 26.7 percent strikeout rate in the minors this season as he continues to refine his approach. His value is probably as low as it’s ever been, which makes this the perfect time for the San Francisco Giants to make a deal.
So why would the Giants even want him?
While Happ has not shown great contact skills or consistency as of late, he has the tools to be a great player in this league. Even amid all the strikeouts, he posted a 108 OPS+ and slugged 39 home runs in 257 games at the MLB level.
Happ also has a history of hitting the ball hard, with a barrel rate of 12.7 percent for his career.
For those of who are not familiar with barrel rate, here’s an explanation via MLB.com:
"The Barrel classification is assigned to batted-ball events whose comparable hit types (in terms of exit velocity and launch angle) have led to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage since Statcast was implemented Major League wide in 2015."
The league-average barrel rate is 6.3 percent, and the two guys who currently lead the Giants in home runs, Brandon Belt and Pablo Sandoval, own an average barrel percentage of 12.9 percent this season.
With a Giants player development staff that has a history of helping players rework their swings for the better, Happ in San Francisco seems to be a perfect match.
Another reason why this can be a valuable trade for the Giants is because of what little they have to give up in order to receive Happ in return. The Cubs have a solid rotation so the need for Bumgarner isn’t there, but the bullpen can use some work.
In Marc Delucchi’s Sell-Off Series, he proposed dealing Tony Watson and taking on Tyler Chatwood unappealing contract as a means of acquiring Happ.
It’s up to the Giants to get smaller deals like this done in order to speed up this rebuild.