The San Diego Padres are expected to make a huge splash at the 2022 MLB trade deadline, emerging as a potential favorite in the Juan Soto sweepstakes.
A Soto trade is far from a guarantee for the Padres, and it looks as if they've been doing their due diligence, lining up a potential backup plan for the deadline. According to Jon Heyman, the Padres have expressed interest in the Cubs duo of Ian Happ and Willson Contreras, both of whom are considered likely to be dealt at the trade deadline.
Ian Happ and Willson Contreras are players of interest for the Padres. Uncertain if that may be a/the backup plan for top target Juan Soto, but they do fit SD.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 31, 2022
With the Cubs out of playoff contention, there have been strong inklings that Contreras and Happ will be moved at the trade deadline. While the Padres continue to focus on a Soto deal, if they're unsuccessful in their pursuit of the Nationals' superstar, the tandem out of Chicago could be a viable fallback option.
Contreras is one of the best catchers in all of baseball, both offensively and defensively. While Jorge Alfaro has been impressive this season, it's hard not to consider Contreras to be an upgrade at the position. Additionally, outfield is an area of need for the Padres, and they could find the solution in the form of Happ, who made his first-ever All-Star appearance in 2022.
Regardless of what goes down, the Padres are all but guaranteed to offload some of their top prospects in order to improve their chances at a World Series run. While Soto is the crown jewel, San Diego could do far worse than a haul of Happ and Contreras at the deadline.
This year, Happ is slashing .280/.361/.438 with nine home runs and 46 RBI, alongside a 3.0 WAR. Meanwhile, Contreras has slashed .255/.369/.459 with 14 home runs, 38 RBI, and a 2.9 WAR.