Cubs center fielder Ian Happ called going through the arbitration process for the first time a “tough experience for both sides,” but he's grateful he was able to do so.
“It's something that [the players union] obviously negotiated for and it's an honor to get to that point in my career, where I'm able to go through that process,” Happ told reporters on Tuesday. “Not everybody gets there. And just to be able to be in the system is quite a privilege.”
Happ became arbitration-eligible for the first time this past winter, filing a $4.1 million salary figure for 2021. The Cubs filed at $3.25 million and the two sides went to a hearing to determine the 26-year-old’s salary for the upcoming season. Happ, who hit .258/.361/.505 with a team-high 12 home runs in 2020, won the case.
Happ said his decision to go through the process was more of an individual decision rather than feeling a sense of obligation as the Cubs’ players union representative. He noted the difference in the two sides’ figures, as well as the fact that his 2021 salary will set the table for his remaining years of arbitration eligibility.
Happ acknowledged it wasn't easy hearing negative things about his game during the case but he understood what he was getting into: "At the end of the day, that's part of the process" he said.
“I'm very fortunate to be at that point in my career, where I was able to do it and have the ability through the system to be able to fight for what I believed my value was,” he added, “and to then be able to go to work with an organization and a franchise that I obviously have the utmost respect for.”
Before Happ, the last player to beat the Cubs in arbitration was shortstop Shawon Dunston in 1990. The club won its most recent hearing, beating pitcher Justin Grimm in 2018.