Jed Hoyer Softens Stance on Extension ‘Deadline’ for Nico Hoerner, Ian Happ
Though Jed Hoyer never said he wouldn’t negotiate contract extensions once spring training started, he made it clear more than once that he preferred to have things hammered out prior to reporting dates. Between those statements and the club’s poor track record when it comes to extending players, it’s easy to view the perceived lack of activity with Nico Hoerner and Ian Happ as proof that nothing’s getting done soon. Or maybe ever.
Another important factor here is that Happ is primed to enter the next free agency period as one of the top players on the market. Depending on what happens with his performance and Manny Machado‘s status — he can opt out of the final five years and $150 million of his Padres deal — an argument could be made that Happ is second to only Shohei Ohtani. A very distant second, but he still stands to cash in.
Hoyer obviously knows that and is weighing the prospect of paying Happ handsomely versus putting faith in one or more of several outfield prospects coming up through the system. Seiya Suzuki is locked in for another three years beyond this one and Pete Crow-Armstrong is being penciled in at center for several years into the future. Happ sticking around would leave no real room for Brennen Davis, Owen Caissie, and Kevin Alcántara.
A Hoerner deal seems much more likely because he’s still got two additional years of arbitration eligibility and doesn’t have power numbers, a Gold Glove, or a strong track record of health to boost his value into nine figures. Again, though, it’s a matter of the second baseman and his reps seeing eye-to-eye with a number that figures to fall heavily on the team-friendly side of the line.
Hoyer met with the media in Mesa on Wednesday as camp officially opened for pitchers and catchers, stating that there’s been “positive dialogue” on extension talks. He said there’s really no deadline by which to get anything wrapped up, though most teams and players don’t want the discussions to drag into the regular season. And hey, Hoyer can still technically meet his previous goal since position players don’t officially report for five days.
Cubs president of baseball operations said there’s been positive dialogue on extensions, and he won’t set a deadline on deals even though spring training has begun.
— Ryan Herrera (@ryan_a_herrera) February 15, 2023
I continue to be skeptical about a Happ deal for all the reasons laid out above, though Hoyer tends to abide by the Notorious B.I.G.’s second commandment. He never lets ’em know his next move, operating mainly in silence until something becomes official.