ST. LOUIS – It was a bit of an unusual day for the Cubs and two of their more popular players Tuesday because it ended up being business as usual.

Willson Contreras was starting at catcher for the team in their series opener against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium and Ian Happ was batting fourth and in left field. It’s been that way a lot in the 2022 season, but many didn’t expect that to be the case on this day.

But the Cubs didn’t pull off a deal for Contreras or Happ after all, as the 5 PM central time trade deadline on Tuesday came and went with both still on the club. The big selloff expected by a Cubs’ team still building towards competitiveness didn’t happen like it did in 2021, with four relievers being traded in the four days leading up to the deadline.

So why did the deals, especially when it comes to Contreras, not go down? Was there a missed opportunity for the Cubs?

Jed Hoyer was left to explain that to the media in a news conference soon early Tuesday evening.

“Last year, at the deadline, things lined up for us where we had really motivated buyers at the right times, and I think this year in some ways makes me realize how fortunate we were last year, from a prospect standpoint, to be able to accomplish what we did,” said the team president. “This year, we never exceeded that value, specifically when it comes to talking about Willson.

“I don’t see it as anything going to waste. I think for me, more looking back, in these markets when you’re talking to different teams, it really is dependent on who you’re talking to and how motivated they are to win a title, to bring an All-Star caliber player into their clubhouse. This year, we just didn’t find that.”

Now the Cubs move forward with both players in a season where the team is 20-games under .500 and well out of the playoff race for a second-straight season. Contreras’ deal is set to expire at the end of the season, leaving the Cubs the option of signing to a long-term deal, giving him a qualifying offer to get a compensation draft pick should he reject it, or letting him walk for nothing.

Happ still has one more year left on his contract after he made his first All-Star Game and the Cubs could choose to keep him or move him in the offseason. The same scenario as this year could also play out with the outfielder should he remain on the roster to start the 2023 season.

Keeping both players ends a bizarre week in which there were a few tributes by fans and players to both Contreras and Happ as it looked like they were going to be moved. That included an emotional sendoff at Wrigley Field last Tuesday that included standing ovations and hugs by teammates.

After Sunday’s game against the Giants, teammates came up to Contreras in the dugout and gave him hugs in what appeared to be his final game with the team.

Hoyer hadn’t spoken to the players immediately after the deadline since their game with the Cardinals was about to begin but could sympathize with their plight over the previous week.

“I do understand the emotional toll that it takes when you’re waiting on a phone call and reading rumors. I know that would be difficult for me in that situation,” said Hoyer when asked about the last week for both Contreras and Happ when it appeared they would be traded. “I do really understand the human toll that that takes on guys. I definitely want to sit down and talk to those guys.”

He’ll have the opportunity now after they remain on the club for the rest of this season.