For the second time in as many years, Jason Heyward is on the move, agreeing to a deal with the Chicago Cubs.
Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times first reported the news. Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal and CBS Sports’ Jon Heymanhave since confirmed Heyward is headed to the Cubs.
Heyman indicated Heyward likely gave the Cubs a discount:
Rosenthal confirmed that both the Nationals and Cardinals are believed to have offered Heyward over $200 million.
Wittenmyer added the deal is for eight years, while Rosenthalreported it was worth $184 million. Peter Gammons of MLB Network noted the deal contains two opt-out clauses, while Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago added the first opt out was after just three seasons.
Heyward, who spent the 2015 season with the St. Louis Cardinals, is one of the unsung superstars in baseball. He’s not a traditional star, with his home run totals sitting in the mid-to-high teens for most of his career, but his ability to get on base, steal bases and play elite defense in right field has made him a valuable asset.
According to FanGraphs’ metrics, Heyward has been worth more than five wins above replacement three times in the past four years. Even in 2013, he was worth 3.4 WAR despite playing just 104 games due to injuries.
|23.2 Baserunning Runs||21st|
|122 Defensive Runs Saved||1st|
The Cardinals opted to let the 26-year-old test free agency, with general manager John Mozeliak saying in September any negotiations between the two sides would take place in the offseason.
This deal is a bold risk for the Cubs, though Heyward was always going to have his share of suitors. One general manager told CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman last offseason that a $200 million deal for the former All-Star wouldn’t be a surprise.
“He’s the best defensive right fielder in the game. He’s young. He has upside. He’s a leader with great makeup. And his WAR is higher than Giancarlo Stanton,” the GM said.
Despite the large financial commitment, Jon Morosi of Fox Sports reported the Cubs may not be done yet this offseason. Stars Heyward’s age don’t hit the market very often, so it’s easy to see why he became one of the most coveted players available. Now, Heyward takes his tremendous skill set to Chicago. He’s a true difference-maker who does so many things so well that everyone around him will be even better.