Update 2:30 PM: Ken Rosenthal sheds even more light on contract details...
Source: Heyward can opt out of deal with #Cubs after year three or year four if he exceeds certain plate appearance thresholds.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 11, 2015
UPDATE 2:00 PM: Jesse Rogers has more detail...
First one comes after 3 years https://t.co/8pTtZs8q1z
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) December 11, 2015
This is interesting because Heyward will be just 29 -- still in his prime, so if he plays well and the market for outfielders gets even better, he may just opt out. Of course, that could help the Cubs as well as it would free up long term payroll flexibility. Look at it this way, if Heyward is playing well enough to opt out in 3 years, then the Cubs will be in good shape.
UPDATE 1:50 PM: Peter Gammons tweets the deal.
Jayson Heyard is 8 years, $184M with two opt-outs.
— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) December 11, 2015
According to Jon Heyman, the Cubs will sign Jason Heyward.
UPDATE: We know Wittenmeyer dropped one earlier but he was actually first to report the signing. Now he is saying the deal was a pretty good one for the Cubs.
Heyward deal less than $185m. Believed to be eight years.
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) December 11, 2015
I made the case earlier to sign Heyward, even if I wasn't overly optimistic early on, but that optimism seemed to grow by the day and then by the hour. The argument for signing him is essentially: lineup fit, defense, and that if you are going to spend, spend on a unique player that you cannot otherwise acquire easily. At just 26 and in the prime of his career. Heyward meets that criteria.
For those that say that Heyward is not worth the money, I say it is more about trying to invest in the team as a whole. The Cubs believe Heyward is the expensive, but necessary piece to make the Cubs offense and defense run more smoothly.
Heyward is a great defensive player and shaky OF defense was something that hurt the Cubs as well, even before the Mets series.
He is not the dynamic offensive player he was once projected to be, but he is a good hitter who makes contact and has the kind of selective approach the Cubs preach. It is a further attempt to diversify a lineup that was a bit exposed by the Mets RH power pitchers in the NLCS. For those that worry about his swing, yes, it is a complex one. That is the case for any players with his particular, long limbed build. But Heyward is also an intelligent player who a) can make the adjustment when he goes off the rails and b) will still give you good ABs, good defense, and good all around play even when he isn't hitting.
The Cubs have quite a bit of power in Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler, Javier Baez, and maybe even Addison Russell, so that was not a concern for them.
We could well see something like this...
- Zobrist, 2B
- Heyward, CF
- Bryant, 3B
- Rizzo, 1B
- Soler, RF
- Schwarber, LF
- Russell, SS
- Montero, C
That lineup would be an absolute menace to NL pitchers...but there are some who say the Cubs may not be done with restructuring their team. Theo himself said another FA signing/trade was possible. And if the Cubs really want to improve their OF defense, then they'll move Heyward to RF, get a defensive CFer, and trade Soler, possibly for another SP. Even without Soler, it is still a formidable lineup and with Heyward in RF and a good defensive CFer, the Cubs suddenly have a pretty solid defensive team as well. And we have already talked about the deep pitching staff. Trading Soler would hurt, but if you look at it as the Cubs needing overall balance more than they need one more big bopper, then it begins to make sense.
Another option is to keep Soler and trade Baez, which would favor the offense over the defense and versatility. Though Baez has some of the best power in the organization, Soler has similar power and is the better all-around hitter.
Then, of course, there is the option to keep them all, though I am not sure that is the best use of resources. But the Cubs won't feel forced or rushed to do anything. There are worse things in baseball than to be "stuck" with a potentially dominant lineup like the one above.
This has been a wild offseason, more than I expected -- and, in all likelihood, they are still not done.
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