Since the Chicago Cubs emerged as the hottest team in the National League, they have been a destination of choice. A great feeling which could bring up a couple of issues along the way.
First, I’m aware that we are only a couple of games into the regular season. Right now, the Chicago Cubs are sitting near the bottom of an early National League Central race. No need to panic, so breathe.
However, some already have their eyes on the future, and if all goes well, the future will be brighter than ever. Which is the reason why Jason Heyward will be our topic of discussion. Nothing to worry about, right?
We’ll see. About eight years ago, Heyward made his big league debut with the Atlanta Braves. Yes, against our boys, well, his boys now.
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In his debut, Heyward took former right-hander Carlos Zambrano deep to right-field. A three-run homer that let the world know that J-Hey has arrived.
A few seasons later and he ends up winning a World Series with the same club he demolished in his debut.
It’s funny how sports work, huh? Put up huge numbers against one club and help them end 108-years of pain later on in your career.
So, how has Heyward performed since inking a seven-year deal with the Cubs after wearing enemy colors for a year? Defensively, Heyward has always been a force of nature — Gold Glove after Gold Glove.
Changes, changes, changes
Following a disappointing showcase in the batters’ box, Heyward got to work early, changing up his approach. Everything looked great, and improvements were shown as he hit four more homers and drove in 10 more runs than his 2016 totals.
Also worth mentioning, he struck out 26 less than he did. Again, slight improvements but if he fails to do anything more this year, could he possibly end up being someone with over $150 million serving as a bench player?
Sadly, yes and that’s my issue about this situation. In my opinion, that’s entirely too much money just serving as either a defensive replacement or occasional pinch-hitter, especially with Bryce Harper on the horizon. That’s right; I’m on the Harper train.
What choices do they have?
Picture this; the Cubs end up signing Harper for a massive contract, possibly the largest contract in baseball history. Where does that leave Heyward? Would it be fair for him to take the center field role from young talent such as Albert Almora Jr. and or Ian Happ?
Sure, he was penciled in as the starting center fielder ahead of Dexter Fowler‘s re-signing.
Could that possible move result in the Cubs being forced to trade one of the two to keep Jason on board? Remember, former lead-off man Fowler left that job open for Almora who was quickly caught up by Happ.
If the Cubs’ front-office opts to use them as a trade piece for something bigger, such as an arm for the rotation, then so be it. I don’t feel like it would be essential to move a promising player under team control for a guy who could step in for another club.
Maybe that’s just me though. We’ll see.