Chicago Cubs outfielder Ian Happ is hitting the cover off the ball as he tries to win the team’s lead-off hitter role, but his 2018 contract is creating a bit of buzz in camp.
That’s because Happ, who hit 24 home runs and drove in 68 RBI in his rookie season, became the first player with three or fewer years of MLB experience during Theo Epstein’s regime in Chicago to have his contract renewed instead of simply agreeing to a new one with the team.
The technicality means that Happ and his representatives couldn't come to an agreement on a salary with the Cubs, and the team opted to simply renew his deal at $570,000, according to reports.
Under MLB rules, players with zero-to-three years of major league service time remain under team control, and are usually signed to deals far below what they would command on the open market due to the league’s strict control rules.
Despite Happ not coming to an agreement on his 2018 salary with the Cubs, G.M. Jed Hoyer insists that everything is fine with the youngster.
“There are zero hard feelings,” Hoyer said. “We couldn’t get to the right number. It’s OK. We’ve got a great relationship, and we’ll move forward.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, Happ will make $570,000 this season, $25,000 more than the league’s prorated minimum.
See the Cubs' 2018 Photo Day Pictures - and Yes, Schwarber Looks Totally Different
Javier Baez signed the highest-value deal among players who agreed to contracts over the weekend, with a $657,000 contract.
Here is the full list of players who agreed to terms with the Cubs:
Pitchers: Adbert Alzolay, Eddie Butler, Oscar De La Cruz, Carl Edwards Jr., Luke Farrell, Cory Mazzoni, Dillon Maples, Alec Mills, Mike Montgomery, Randy Rosario, Jen-Ho Tseng, Duane Underwood Jr., Rob Zastryzny
Catchers: Victor Caratini and Willson Contreras
Infielders: Javier Baez and David Bote
Outfielders: Albert Almora Jr., Kyle Schwarber, Mark Zagunis
The Cubs will take the field Sunday against the Oakland A’s before getting a day off from their spring training schedule Monday.