Chicago Cubs: Jason Heyward’s role going forward

MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 24: Outfielder Jason Heyward
MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 24: Outfielder Jason Heyward /

A crowded Chicago Cubs outfield seems to favor a role-change for a struggling Jason Heyward. He can still be useful if used in certain situations.

There is no doubt that Jason Heyward‘s tenure with the Chicago Cubs has not quite lived up to the hype of when he was signed. He is a great teammate and superb defender, but the hitting has not come around. Coming into Saturday, he is slashing .222/.306/.343 in 33 games and is slashing .241/.314/.352 as a Cub.

After his first season, it was thought that he could rebound considering he had a good track record before coming to Chicago. Last year he slashed .259/.326/.389 in 126 games, which is not terrible and pretty average, but still would want more.

What do we do with him?

More from Cubbies Crib

Heyward is a five-time Gold Glove winner that can be fully trusted defensively in a tight game. He is also a solid baserunner (15.9 career UBR) with decent speed.

At this point, it is unlikely Heyward turns the bat around and produces like it did in St. Louis or his early days in Atlanta, which one reason why being an everyday player may not be the role for him.

More fitting roles

It can be frustrating to have to give a guy who is being paid $21.5 million this year a lesser-role. But it is what it is. Having Heyward as a platoon/defensive replacement player could help bring out his best value.

In days with left-handed starters, right field can be manned by Ian Happ, Ben Zobrist or Kris Bryant. If they have a late lead or in a tight situation then Heyward can come in defensively considering he has a better outfield glove than all those guys while having the weakest bat.

Regarding starting against righties, he should get some starts, just not as often. Heyward this year is slashing .250/.333/.413 against righties. Not great, not terrible. Significantly better than his .143/.226/.143 line against lefties. Guys will need days off, and Joe Maddon may want to start a defensive-minded outfield on some days.

Next: Looking for a measure of consistency

The most important thing for this team is bringing out the best value from each player. Even if that means making adjustments. Say what you will about what he is being paid, but the Cubs are not strapped for cash, so money is not a huge deal. They just have to take Heyward for what he is, a great defender and clubhouse guy, not an everyday player expected to put up great batting numbers.