Chicago Cubs: Grading the offseason moves

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October 13, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Jason Heyward (22) hits a single in the sixth inning against Chicago Cubs in game four of the NLDS at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Heyward

Former St. Louis Cardinal’s right fielder Jason Heyward bypassed higher monetary offers to sign with the Chicago Cubs. He “settled” for a 8-year, $184 million contract with two opt-out clauses sprinkled throughout the life of the contract.

"As everyone may have seen from the numbers that came out, I didn’t take the highest offer. But for me, a winning attitude and culture and the fact that this was such a young group that I could grow myself with and be 26 years old. I would rather grow up with a bunch of guys and make them family and be able to cherish that for the rest of the day without feeling like I had to restart. –Quote obtained by CSN-Chicago reporter Tony Andracki"

Grade: A

The Chicago Cubs needed a center fielder after Dexter Fowler declined a qualifying offer worth $15.8 million. The Heyward signing provided the club with a fantastic right fielder who now has to convert his skills to the center field position.

According to, Heyward led all right fielders in 2015 in Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) with a 20.2 rating (second place was 13.8). According to baseball reference, he saved 22 runs more than a hypothetical replacement player (Rdrs).

Center field is different from right field and Heyward has only played the former position in 32 games during his MLB career. There isn’t a guarantee that his skills will carry over; however, his presence at center should at least stabilize an outfield that struggled defensively last season.

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In 2015 with the St. Louis Cardinals, Heyward slashed .293/.359/.439 with 13 home runs and 60 RBIs in 610 plate appearances. The biggest concern with Heyward offensively is his lack of power. The 13 home runs that he hit last season was just average among all Major League hitters and he hasn’t been able to touch the 27 home runs that he hit in 2012 with the Atlanta Braves.

Heyward was top 40 in the MLB in on-base percentage in 2015, however. The Chicago Cubs need players with on-base and contact skills in their lineup.

He is a good situational hitter as well. He slashed .264/.359/.349 with runners in scoring position and a respectable .245/.365/.283 with two outs and runners in scoring position.

The 26-year-old Heyward is young and in his prime and the Cubs avoided spending upwards of $200 million to acquire his services. Based on average annual salary, the $23 million the Cubs are going to pay him per year isn’t bad considering their other free agent targets (David Price, Zack Greinke) went for over $30 million annually.

The Cubs acquired an elite fielder who fills the vacancy they had both at center field and at the top of their order. This was a great signing made even sweeter because the Cubs pried Heyward away from the St. Louis Cardinals.

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