With Greg Deichmann arriving in the Windy City to make his big league debut on Friday, the Chicago Cubs placed veteran outfielder Jason Heyward on the IL with left index finger inflammation.
It’s just the latest setback for Heyward, who has been downright atrocious this season. One year after looking like he was putting it all together at the dish, Heyward, who turns 32 on Monday, has limped to a .198/.271/.322 line. Given he’s making $21 million this year and a combined $44 million over the next two years, the Cubs front office needs to take a very long look in the mirror and seriously ponder Heyward’s future with the organization.
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Seriously, if you’re fine cutting ties with guys like Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant – not to mention Andrew Chafin, Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel – you can’t look me in the eye and tell me that Heyward is worth keeping on the roster. Not at that price point, at least.
Earlier this year, we saw the Angels drop future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols, who quickly signed on with the reigning World Series champions in Los Angeles. They did so despite the fact it meant they’d be eating what was left of his $30 million salary for 2021. The Cubs should do the same with Heyward.
I understand the leadership void you’d create with such a move. Maybe you just ghost injury him for the final two months, keeping his presence in the dugout and clubhouse – but he can’t take reps away from the young guys you need to evaluate: Deichmann, Ian Happ, Rafael Ortega, Patrick Wisdom, etc.
Chicago Cubs: Jason Heyward, Jake Arrieta are little more than dead weight
I actually wondered if Chicago would DFA him to make room for Deichmann before they wound up placing him on the injured list Friday. But, alas, it looks like, if nothing else, they’re kicking the can down the road a bit. I’ve wondered more than once if the same fate awaited Jake Arrieta, who has been a shell of his former self – if that – since returning to the North Side.
On the year, the right-hander carries a -1.8 WAR, according to Baseball Reference. He’s allowing more than 11 hits per nine, has an ERA of 6.34 and is serving up long balls at a career-worst rate. Even as one of my personal all-time favorite Cubs players, I’m at the point where you cannot justify taking starts from someone like Justin Steele down the stretch.
At this point, the bandaid has been violently ripped off. There’s no point in half-measures or fan service. If the Cubs are serious about getting back on track sooner rather than later, you can’t be wasting roster spots on veterans with nothing left to offer.