Few teams were under more of a spotlight than the Chicago Cubs as Tuesday's 6 p.m. ET trade deadline approached.
After all, the rebuilding Cubs are nowhere near contention and featured a number of veterans who could contribute elsewhere in a playoff race and bring back prospects for a rebuilding club. That made them a natural seller with catcher Willson Contreras and outfielder Ian Happ as their primary trade candidates.
So much for that.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported the Cubs elected not to trade Contreras and Happ ahead of the deadline in one of the bigger surprises around the league.
The decision not to trade Contreras, who is 30 years old and scheduled for free agency after this season, is perhaps the most surprising. He could leave for another club this offseason and may no longer even be in his prime when the Cubs contend again if they re-sign him.
Keeping him also goes against the club's recent decisions to trade franchise icons Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez last year and not re-sign Kyle Schwarber after the 2020 season.
They were all integral pieces in breaking Chicago's extended World Series championship drought in 2016. Contreras was as well, and any sentimental connections didn't figure to play much of a factor because they hadn't in those previous decisions.
Yet the three-time All-Star is still a member of the only Major League Baseball team he has ever known, even though he could have helped a catcher-needy contender and perhaps allowed the Cubs to restock their farm system with multiple additions.
The decision to keep Happ is somewhat less surprising since he is not scheduled for free agency until 2024 and is just 27 years old in the middle of his first All-Star season. He could be a major piece of the team for years to come and may even command a smaller salary to re-sign than Contreras eventually will.
He also made it clear he wasn't going anywhere after the deadline passed:
Happ could have been a backup outfield option for teams that lost out on the Juan Soto sweepstakes, but he too will play out the rest of the season for the third-place team in the National League Central.