Blue Jays Rumors: Ian Happ nearly came to Toronto at the 2022 trade deadline

Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs
Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Ian Happ enjoyed his first All-Star season with the Chicago Cubs in 2022, but he nearly didn’t end the year on Chicago’s North Side.

Happ, a guest on retired Major Leaguer Jason Kipnis’ Foul Territory YouTube show on Tuesday, revealed he was close to being traded at the deadline last season. He named the New York Yankees as a favorite to trade for him, as well as the Atlanta Braves. And, in a case of “what could’ve been” for Blue Jays fans, he mentioned Toronto as a possible destination.

“I didn’t know where. There were definitely opportunities. New York was a real opportunity, probably Atlanta, probably Toronto,” Happ told Kipnis. “So there were definitely a bunch of places that were looking for an outfield bat. I don’t know how close it got, but I definitely felt like I wasn’t going to be in Chicago. I was completely and totally prepared for it.”

Happ finished the year batting .271 with 17 home runs and 72 RBI, earning the first Gold Glove and All-Star selection of his six-year career. But his season was clouded by trade rumors throughout the summer. Following a Cubs win over the Pirates on July 26, Happ and teammate Willson Contreras were the last players remaining in the dugout and shared an emotional hug, a teary-eyed Contreras burying his head in Happ's shoulder. It seemed at the time like both would never play in front of the Wrigley Field crowd in a Cubs uniform again.

The Cubs choose not to trade either of them. Happ’s play in the field wasn’t affected by the talk swirling around him as he batted .261 with eight homers, nearly doubling his total on the season, with a .769 OPS in 58 games after the deadline. Contreras eventually left for St. Louis in free agency. Happ, meanwhile, signed a three-year, $61M extension earlier this month that will keep him in Chicago through the 2026 season. He's currently batting .321 with two homers and 12 RBI in 15 games this season.

The switch-hitting Happ could’ve been the left-handed bat the Blue Jays were desperately looking for last season. A deal never materialized, and instead, the Blue Jays traded for Whit Merrifield, as well as pitchers Mitch White, Anthony Bass, and Zach Pop at the deadline.

Blue Jays fans are left with visions of what could’ve happened if that trade was made. Do the Blue Jays trade for Daulton Varsho in the offseason if they had Happ in their outfield? Is top prospect Gabriel Moreno still the Blue Jays' catcher of the future? If Happ was in the lineup instead of Raimel Tapia, do the Blue Jays defeat Seattle in the playoffs?

These questions will remain hypothetical. Happ remains in Chicago, and fans in Toronto only have dreams of what might have been.