Chicago Cubs: Jason Heyward would be a waste of money


Outfielder Jason Heyward is widely considered one of the best non-pitcher free agents on the market. So why is he a tremendous waste of money for the Chicago Cubs?

On a national scale, the biggest problem with the Chicago Cubs’ roster, which won 97 games and were within four wins of a World Series berth this season, is outfield defense.

Kyle Schwarber, who clubs home runs like it’s nothing, took over duties in left field in the postseason, joining the likes of free agent Dexter Fowler and Cuban slugger Jorge Soler – together forming one of the shakiest outfield defenses in the league.

The trio turned in dWAR figures of -0.2, -1.0 and -1.3, respectively, with Schwarber being the best of the three. Of course, that may be due, in part, to his smaller sample size – but that’s neither here nor there.

Fowler probably won’t be back in 2016. We’ve discussed this at-length in recent weeks and you can check some of that out here. So with Fowler gone, that leaves two players coming off their first tastes of big league action manning two spots, with a less-than-stellar defensive resume to their names.

Of course, the Cubs could look inward this offseason, signing someone like Austin Jackson to a deal to handle center-field duties until Albert Almora is ready – but another option would be spending big on a prime-time defensive player like Jason Heyward.

According to Fangraphs, Heyward was the best defensive right-fielder in the game this year – and with good reason. He saved 22 runs with his defense – by contrast, the next-best player, the Mets’ Curtis Granderson, saved 12. His UZR of 20.8 was by-far the best in the league and that’s not even taking into account his bat, which, suffice to say, only adds to the interest he’s receiving.

Heyward will no-doubt be the St. Louis Cardinals’ top offseason priority. He’s probably going to get somewhere north of $150 million this winter – due to a combination of his youth (he’s heading into his age 26 season) and his apparent talent.

But for the Chicago Cubs, he’d be the biggest mistake the team could possibly make.

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I could make this argument based solely on his high asking price – but there’s another angle to this discussion that I realized earlier this week: Alex Gordon will likely only get $85-$95 million this winter, and has numbers that are damn-near identical to those of Heyward.

Over 162-game averages, Heyward hits 19 homers and drives in 68 runs with a .268/.353/.431 slash-line. By comparison, Gordon, who now has a World Series ring under his belt, averages 19 long-balls, 75 RBI and a .269/.348/.435 line during his career.

So why would Chicago, a team that clearly needs starting pitching depth, spend $150 million on an outfielder when they could give almost half that amount to a comparable player?

In short, they wouldn’t.

Don’t expect Jason Heyward to be in the Chicago Cubs’ plans this offseason. He’s overpriced and while he’s tremendously talented, there’s no place for him in this organization’s big picture plans.