Chicago Cubs: Jason Heyward would be an ideal fit in outfield
The Cubs would be an ideal landing spot for Heyward
The Chicago Cubs will need to address their outfield situation, and that will primarily be the case in center field. Dexter Fowler has a stellar year scoring 102 runs for the NLCS Cubs, but his average was the lowest he’s had since his rookie year (.250) when he played in just 18 games. One of the biggest issues with Fowler is his defense. His UZR was the worst in baseball of qualified center fielders, and his dWar was -1.8. On the eye test, Fowler doesn’t appear that bad, but with the team’s current configuration of outfielders he could be a liability. With Kyle Schwarber potentially seeing time in left field, and Jorge Soler in right field–who has a cannon, but chooses poor routes to the ball–a defender thaat can protect those two would be a better fit.
Enter Jason Heyward. While he’s had a few outstanding seasons at the plate, it’s his defense that he’s known for. Primarily a right fielder, he has seen time in center field and would immediately be the Cubs best option there. Where Fowler’s UZR is -64.4 in center, Heyward carried a UZR of 94.4 in right field. At just 26 years old, there’s no reason to believe he couldn’t man center field for the next few years. Having Heyward to help “protect” Schwarber and Soler could help to offset the inadequacies of those two. Schwarber may not be the primary left fielder as he’s expected to get work behind the plate again this winter, but it’s a distinct possibility he’ll see time there.
But make no mistake, bringing his bat to Chicago would be a “good get”. The downside is that Heyward is not a leadoff hitter, at least by definition. Then again, Cubs’ skipper Joe Maddon doesn’t manage his lineup the same way as other managers so that doesn’t mean it can’t work. But losing Fowler would leave the Cubs with no obvious choice at the top of the order.
Heyward has averaged 19 home runs and 68 RBI’s per season over his first six seasons. He’s a .268 career hitter and has also averaged 87 runs. Should Maddon choose to, Heyward could become a very potent force at the top of the order. He doesn’t walk with the frequency that Fowler does, so he wouldn’t be the table setter he was, but still capable.
One of the biggest key–should the Cubs acquire Heyward–is that they take him away from the division rival Cardinals. He was one of the Cards that did the most damage to the Cubs, so taking him from them serves two purposes. Takes him away, and takes away one of their lineups biggest threats against them.
The Cubs have the flexibility in payroll to get it done, and the Cardinals have talked a big game for the offseason, but we’ll see if they get it done. The Cubs and Cardinals may battle one more time before next season starts–this time for Heyward’s services.