Chicago Cubs make big splash again, sign Jason Heyward


The Chicago Cubs made news again this offseason by signing the much-wanted outfielder Jason Heyward, and for less than expected.

The Chicago Cubs have made some big moves to change its fortunes. Over the past two offseasons, they have acquired Jon Lester, Miguel Montero, Dexter Fowler, John Lackey and Ben Zobrist.

There is now another name to add, as they signed much sought-after outfielder Jason Heyward.

Heyward was thought to be the top free agent outfielder available in free agency. He is the rare 26-year old free agent. He is just entering his prime, when most top free agents are in the middle or tail end of their prime.

What was good to hear was the details of the contract. The Chicago Cubs signed Heyward to an eight-year, $184 million. There were reports that he had two 10-year, $200 million offers.

The northside of Chicago is becoming a popular landing spot. The Cubs signed Lackey to a team-friendly two-year, $32.5 million deal, and Zobrist signed a four-year, $56 million deal when the New York Mets had an offer of over $60 million. Players are taking less for a good chance of winning a title with the Cubs, who have not won in 107 seasons.

Heyward has a career slash of .268/.353/.431. He has a career OPS+ of 114. Last season, he hit .293/.359/.439, with 13 home runs and 60 RBI. He also has 33 doubles. He stole 23 bases while getting caught just three times.

The main thing that makes Heyward so valuable is his glove. He is a three-time Gold Glove Award winner. He led the league in assists in 2012 and 2014, and was fourth in 2015. Over the last two seasons, he has a 12.7 WAR (wins above replacement), which ranks him  fifth in Major League Baseball, and out of that 4.8 was defensive. He ranked fourth in defensive WAR in 2014 (2.8) and eighth in 2015 (2.0).

The interesting thing about how well he played defensively in 2015 is that while he is a natural right fielder, he took over center field for the St. Louis Cardinals late in the season and into the playoffs.

That brings another interesting note — where will Heyward play in 2016?

As slated at this moment, the Chicago Cubs have Jorge Soler in right field and Kyle Schwarber in left. That is asking a lot from Heyward to cover the ground that those other two cannot.

The thought here is that the Cubs are still not done dealing. There were rumors that they were in discussion with the Cleveland Indians involving Soler, perhaps for pitcher Carlos Carrasco, or the Atlanta Braves for Ender Inciarte. They can also re-sign Austin Jackson..

More from Da Windy City

Even if Heyward is asked to play center, it probably will not be for more than a season. There is Albert Almora, who is waiting in the wings. He may be a year or less away from manning center field for the Chicago Cubs.

Theo Epstein has done so much to turn around the fortunes of the Chicago Cubs. There has not been this much national buzz around Wrigley Field for a long time. Epstein and company are working their best to end the title drought.

David Shoenfield, Senior Writer for ESPN, wrote about how good the Heyward signing makes the Chicago Cubs.

"You can look foolish projecting a team to win 100 games, but this looks like a 100-win team, even accounting for regression from Arrieta. Bryant and Russell should be even better in 2016; the defense will be better with a full season from Russell at shortstop and Heyward in the outfield. The rotation and bullpen are both a little deeper. The Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers are expected to be awful, pushing the Cubs even closer to that 100-win mark."

Next: Jay Cutler Playing Well, but Chicago Bears Still Need Someone Else

Let’s stay tuned to what else the Chicago Cubs have up their sleeves. Can the season start already?