Chicago Cubs Win Big in Signing Jason Heyward

Jul 8, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward catches a fly ball against the ivy on the wall against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Heyward will see a lot more of Wriggly Field over the next eight years. [Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports]

CHICAGO- The Chicago Cubs have made yet another free agency signing reeling in the three time Gold Glove Award Winner Jason Heyward. This signing is in wake of both the John Lackey and Ben Zobrist deals made by the Cubs this winter. According to reports, Heyward left two offers for more than $200 million on the table from both the St. Louis Cardinals, his former employer, and the Washington Nationals. Heyward ended up agreeing to a 8 year $184 million deal with the Cubs.

There were many aspects other than the money that attracted Heyward to the Cubs. From this past year with the Cardinals, Heyward had many opportunities to see the bright future the Cubs have ahead. General Manager Theo Epstein has made it his duty to acquire quality, young, talent through many different means. The current roster is stacked with young all-star quality talent. The infield alone has many phenomenal players including: Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Miguel Montero and the newly acquired Ben Zobrist. Rizzo, Bryant, and Russell are current stars that are on the way to blossoming into superstars. Over the last two years Montero and Zobrist were made priorities by Epstein in order to bring veteran voices into an otherwise very young clubhouse. Not mentioned previously is highly touted prospect Javier Baez. There have been numerous rumors about the Cubs possibly moving him for young pitching. It remains to be seen if a deal comes to fruition; stay posted for updates regarding this situation. The outfield, as well, does not lack star talent and potential. Currently in left field is Kyle Schwarber, a 22-year-old sophomore who as a rookie sensation set the Cubs franchise postseason total homeruns record after hitting 5 in 7 games. Currently stationed in right field is Jorge Soler, another young player with great power and superstar potential. Currently Heyward slots in as the center fielder despite having three gold gloves in right field. A trade of Soler for pitching and re-signing of last year’s center fielder, Dexter Fowler, remains a possibility that would shift Heyward back to right field.

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This star core of young players found success in the playoffs and hopes to build on their NLCS appearance in 2016. [Jonathan Daniel/Getty]

While the Cub’s young position players may be rivaled by no other team in the majors, their pitching staff is no slouch, to say the least. The pitching rotation is fronted by ace and reigning Cy-Young award winner Jake Arrieta. Arrieta comes off a season in which he posted a 22-6 record with a 1.77 ERA in 229 innings pitched. At 29, Arrieta is in his prime and should sustain his success from last season. After Arrieta is Jon Lester. Lester had a down year by his standards in his first season in the National League. However, he remains a two-time World Series champion who brings skill and veteran leadership to this team. John Lackey is a pitcher acquired earlier this off-season in free agency. Like Lester, Lackey is a former two-time champion and a true veteran of the game. In fact, Lester and Lackey were both team mates on the Red Sox’ 2013 championship team. Another big plus of signing Lackey is that it takes away from their primary division rival, the St. Louis Cardinals. Lackey and Heyward were the Cardinal’s two leaders in ERA in 2015. The Cubs have strategically strengthened themselves while hurting their rivals.

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Jake Arrieta had a season for the ages and returns next season with an even better lineup behind him. [Matt Marton/USA TODAY Sports]

As mentioned previously, there are many different strengths on the Cubs that drew Heyward to them. However, there were many aspects about Heyward that piqued the Cub’s interest. Since he was drafted with the 14th overall pick in the 2007 amateur draft, Heyward has been viewed with high expectations. While he has not live up to all of the hype, he has certainly developed into a great player. Heyward is in many ways the definition of a five tool player. He hits for average, plays phenomenal defense with fantastic speed and a great arm, and steals bases. Beyond that he is a smart player who affects the game in many different ways. The only tool that has yet to truly develop has been his power where he has just one season with more than 20 homers. However, at just 26, there is time for that to develop before he reaches the traditional prime years.

As with any relationship, both parties were convinced that this was a good fit. The big money deal offered and signed is certainly reflective of that. With Heyward joining the Cubs, they become the unquestioned favorite to win the NL pennant and perhaps the World Series. Maybe Heyward is the answer to ending Chicago’s World Series drought. What happens for the Cubs in 2016 may be very exciting.

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