On March 9, 2016, I wrote “2016’s Worst Free-Agent Signings” and number one on the list was the absurd signing of and repugnant contract negotiated that brought Jason Heyward to the Chicago Cubs for eight seasons, in exchange for the tidy sum of $184 Million. I wrote:
“It’s a good thing that the Cubs eventually re-signed Dexter Fowler, because until then the plan seemed to be to move Heyward to center, which would have become a total disaster. As it is, as I wrote months ago, this guy is no way, no how a $184 M player. Heyward is a good defensive right fielder who’s a .268 lifetime hitter and who doesn’t drive in runs (52 average RBI over the last three seasons). Eight years at $23 mil a year? Stupid is the only word that comes to mind.”
Linked to that, was this from an earlier article:
“Jason Heyward is an oft-injured mediocre hitter, who has a reputation as a great defensive right fielder… Yet, for reasons that defy logic, Heyward was the number one sought after non-pitcher free agent this off season, eventually garnering a massively overpriced eight-year, $184 million deal from the Cubs…”
Now, as the 2016 season has come to an end with the Cubs crowned World Champs – NO thanks to the mediocre Heyward – the deal can be more closely examined, and the numbers do not lie:
For the regular season, the $184-Million-Dollar-Man produced numbers below his lifetime averages, hitting a paltry .230 with nine home runs, 49 RBI, a. .631 OPS and a MINUS WAR of -0.3. Think that was bad? In the postseason, Heyward’s numbers hit rock bottom, going five-for-48, a .104 average, with zero home runs and one lone RBI. OPS? .307.
It’s not like the Cubs had NO ONE ELSE to play right field. The team that seems to come up with one multi-talented future star every month or two still has two talented but bypassed former can’t miss prospects in young outfielders Matt Szczur and Jorge Solar, 2016 call-up Albert Amora, veteran Chris Coghlan, and with Javier Baez establishing himself as the everyday second baseman going forward, Ben Zobrist will now be almost exclusively an outfielder. The World Series heroics and explosive talent of Kyle Schwarber cannot be minimized, and with a return to health next season, he has to play everyday, or close to it, and the only place for him is also in the outfield.
I GUARANTEE you that in 2017, Heyward will be at the end of the bench or long gone, with Zobrist moving to right field and Schwarber the everyday left fielder.
So, what of that “other” thing Heyward did, you know, that speech in a players’ meeting during the game seven rain delay? Hogwash. The most talent-laden team in baseball won the World Series and they would have won
the World Series with or without Heyward on the field, and with or without this Knute-Rochne-Lite overblown and unnecessary public relations hyped supposed motivator. Did I also mention that the Cubs have one of the great managers in the game and without Heyward Joe Maddon would have rallied his team to that victory?
$184 Million for .230, 9 and 49? And what’s sad is that general managers and player personnel directors across baseball will see the Cubs’ championship as validation for overpaying so, so much, and they all will keep on doing it.