Chicago Cubs: Jason Heyward remains a key to this team’s future

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: A position change coming for Heyward?

Since joining the Chicago Cubs, Jason Heyward has almost exclusively played right field – and with good reason. He’s an five-time Gold Glove winner at that position, so it makes little sense to move him elsewhere.

But he did see 25 games in center this year (as opposed to 118 in right). It’s worth nothing there is some overlap in those figures, meaning he played both center and right field on a semi-regular basis.

His fielding percentage and range factor were lower in center field than in his natural position. But that’s not to say he was below-average in any regard. But if the Cubs go after Bryce Harper this offseason (and manage to land him), we’re going to see Heyward in center field in 2019.

The most interesting aspect of all this? The sheer amount of payroll tied up in these two guys. Heyward will earn, on average, $21 million annually through 2023. And, according to Bruce Levine of 670 AM The Score, Harper is seeking a big-time payday.

His camp reportedly has a ‘starting point’ of 10 years and $350 million. Now it’s important to note. This isn’t what it will take to get a deal done. This is where discussions will start. If the Cubs signed Harper for, let’s say 12 years and $420 million for a $35 million AAV, that means they’re tying up north of $50 million annually in two outfielders.

With Harper, that makes sense. It’s a tremendous amount of money, sure. But you can justify the financials given what he does on the field, even in down years. But swallowing the next five years of Heyward’s deal grows increasingly difficult when you put them side-by-side.

It’s hard to break down what Jason Heyward will mean to the Cubs moving forward until we see what Theo Epstein does this winter. But this much is sure. They need him to keep making strides at the dish for him to earn his $21 million a year over the next half-decade.

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If he doesn’t, and the Cubs sign Harper, you’re going to see fans turn on Heyward – regardless of what he’s done in the past or the steps he’s taken to adjust at the plate.