Last year, Jason Heyward signed an 8 year, $184 Million contract with the Chicago Cubs. Cubs’ fans were beyond excited and wasted no time calling the Cubs the World Series Champions to be. While the fans weren’t wrong, they didn’t exactly see the type of season they were expecting to see from Jason Heyward.
Now, yes. We can take a look at the fact Jason Heyward had an awful year at the plate. We can take a look at the fact that he only hit .230. We all know how that went. We could look at the fact that he only batted in 49 RBIs and only hit 7 home runs this past season. But, let’s not forget that he won his fourth Golden Glove this past season as well. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better right fielder in the game this past season. Heyward is no dummy, and he knows full well that he stunk up the joint at the plate last season. I found myself many times last season watching the Cubs, and thinking what did we just spend $184 Million on?
But, like I’m going to tell you to do, I had to take a step back. Like I said, Heyward knows he had an awful season at the plate. He has spent enough time following the season explaining, and re-explaining, the season that he had. The beautiful thing, is that he’s not denying it. He is going out of his way, in fact, to try and turn it around. Heyward is definitely not the “Take the Money and Run” type. He is bound and determined to prove that he is worth the money that he was paid.
Already this season, Heyward has bought a home in Phoenix, AZ, so that he can spend time closer to the game. He’s not just sitting at home, watching TV, and relaxing. He is already working to get into game form, and he’s already working on his bat. Heyward knows what he brings to the defense, and now it’s time to work on the offense.
Following the loss of Dexter Fowler, who signed with the St. Louis Cardinals, Heyward’s outfield presence will be even more important this season. He is obviously the starting right fielder, but could definitely see some time in center field as well. He’ll be sharing the Outfield with guys like Kyle Schwarber, Jon Jay, Matt Szczur, Albert Almora, Jr, and even a little Ben Zobrist. With that list of players, Heyward needs to be the leader and veteran of this group. He needs to be the guy that gets everybody going and keeps everyone grounded, just like he did during the rain delay of game 7 of the World Series.
Let’s remember, that Heyward is only a career .262 hitter. Let’s remember, that in his “career year”, he only hit in 82 RBI. Now, if he can get back to that number, or even do better, he’s going to be one of the best players on the Cubs roster from a both offensive and defensive standpoint.
The Cubs know that Heyward has to regroup. The Cubs are supporting him in doing so. We all should too. He’s only one year into his eight-year contract. Let’s not forget that, and let’s just see how this upcoming season goes before we write him off completely, myself included.