Happ, Contreras focus on enjoying potential end of Cubs career

  • Before the Cubs beat Pittsburgh on Monday, outfielder Ian Happ opened up about the looming trade deadline. It's possible Tuesday will be the last game in a Cubs uniform at Wrigley Field for both Happ and Willson Contreras.

    Before the Cubs beat Pittsburgh on Monday, outfielder Ian Happ opened up about the looming trade deadline. It's possible Tuesday will be the last game in a Cubs uniform at Wrigley Field for both Happ and Willson Contreras. Associated Press

Updated 7/25/2022 10:53 PM

It was a surreal moment, last year on July 29, when Anthony Rizzo took one last walk across the Wrigley Field grass before leaving the Cubs and joining the New York Yankees in a trade.

Fellow World Series heroes Kris Bryant and Javy Baez followed Rizzo out the door the next day. So even though outfielder Ian Happ just made his first All-Star Game, he knows anything can happen when the trade deadline hits on Aug. 2.


The Cubs' last home game before the trade deadline is Tuesday afternoon. Wrigley Field was packed Monday night as the Cubs stretched their win streak to five with a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Nico Hoerner delivered the go-ahead RBI, a double to right-center field with two outs in the bottom of the eighth.

With the Cubs sitting well out of the playoff race, it's likely several Cubs will depart soon, with Happ, catcher Willson Contreras, relievers David Robertson and Mychal Givens being the most obvious candidates.

After the game, Contreras choked back tears as he talked about the emotions of these two days.

"I'm trying just to appreciate everything that Wrigley Field is and think of all the memories I have here since 2016," he said. "I don't know but this is probably my last homestand this year. It's tough.

"I knew it would get to me at some point. I wish this day never came, but it's about business. I understand that, I respect that and I love my teammates. I don't want to get too attached to them, because you never know what's going to happen next week."

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Contreras scheduled an autograph signing Monday afternoon at the Obvious Shirts store on Clark and Grace to express thanks to the fans, who lined up for blocks for a chance to meet him.

"I don't want to leave here without absorbing it, taking it in," Happ said before the game. "The next two days will be a lot of enjoying being out there, enjoying the (fans) in left field, giving them the outs and hearing the fans. Beautiful days, summer at Wrigley ... taking those in."

Happ and Contreras got to watch and learn when their older teammates were traded last year, but neither seems quite ready for the reality of leaving the Cubs. Contreras will be a free agent when the season ends, which makes his departure seem more likely.

Happ won't be a free agent until 2024, but his value may never be higher than it is now as a National League all-star. He had 2 hits Monday, including a double.


Both Happ and Contreras have begged the Cubs to let them stay. There are rumors San Diego might have interest in Happ, while the Padres, Astros and Mets are thought to be eyeing Contreras.

"I don't want my Cubs journey to end," Happ said. "I don't want to stop putting the uniform on and coming here every day. We get to come here and enjoy it and reap the rewards of coming to this special place every day, but it's built by the fans, vendors and the people who come to work here every day and love it. I don't take that for granted."

Happ has gotten plenty of firsthand evidence a baseball life can exist without the Cubs. He got to hang out with friend and former teammate Kyle Schwarber at the All-Star Game and in Philadelphia over the weekend.

Schwarber beat Rizzo, Bryant and Baez out the door. He was nontendered before the 2021 season, signed with Washington as a free agent and has since played for the Red Sox and Phillies.

"You see all those guys, they came out the other side of it," Happ said. "Schwarb is in a great spot now leading that team. Rizz is great and Javy is great and KB's great and everybody's still playing baseball at this level.

"You get so emotionally attached to one place and you love it so much for so many reasons. But you (also) want to be a big-league baseball player and to me this is the best place in the world to do it, but all those others things are out of your control."

Coming off an impressive road sweep of Philadelphia, this was one of those games where it didn't pay for the Cubs to be aggressive. They had two runners thrown out trying to steal second base, Contreras was out trying to tag up from first base on a long fly ball and Hoerner was an easy out trying to score on a wild pitch in the fourth inning.

Rafael Ortega hit his fifth home run to put the Cubs up 2-1 in the third, but the offense cooled off from there. Adrian Sampson collected the Cubs' third straight quality start, completing 7 innings on the mound for the first time since 2019, when he pitched for the Rangers. Scott Effross pitched a scoreless ninth to record his first major league save.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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