Chicago Cubs: Could a swap of huge contracts benefit both teams?
Jason Heyward seems like a swell fellow. He makes great speeches during rain delays. He is also a great right fielder. However, he hasn’t lived up to the hype or contract Theo Epstein gave him after the 2015 season and he’s not a great hitter. He’s also signed for another four years and $86 million. If that’s not something the Cubs want to swallow or deal with going forward, it’s now or never to make a deal with his no-trade clause not in effect at the moment.
The key is, everyone else knows he’s not worth that kind of money either, so the Cubs would have to eat some of the money or take on someone else on a hefty contract. I eschewed the term “bad contract” because I don’t quite want to say that it’s bad per se, as Heyward has still been a competent major leaguer, just not the 5 WAR player he was with the Braves or Cardinals earlier in his career.
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Dots have been connected between Heyward and the San Francisco Giants before, so why not connect them here. San Francisco has a large right field that Heyward would patrol masterfully, and his defensive value would be super high there. While he may have lost a step at this point in his career, he’s still one of the best defensive right fielders in the game and he might be more valuable by the bay. If the Giants are interested, they have no shortage of possible big-money targets who haven’t quite lived up to their contracts.
The Cubs could look to stage a reunion with Jeff Sarmardzija or take on Johnny Cueto after being out for the better part of two years rehabbing his elbow. Cueto is owed $47 million (including a $5 million buyout for a third season) over the next two years and Samardzija is owed $19.8 million this season. While the money doesn’t quite match up, Heyward might be valued more highly in the land of the trolleys, and give the Giants greater relief in 2020 if that’s what they’re after.
While the Cubs likely wouldn’t want to take on that kind of money, perhaps they make another play with one of those pitchers or a Jose Quintana following this deal. After 2021, the Cubs would no longer owe any money to any of the three, really opening up their flexibility for the future.