Cubs planning on using Jason Heyward in a more limited role in 2022
By Jake Misener
Boy, I am beyond ready for the end of this lockout and for things to return to some form of normal. We had the COVID-shortened, fan-less 2020 season – a brief stint of regularity last summer – and, now, the league and MLBPA locking horns in CBA negotiations, leaving us, the fans, as the losers in all of it.
So when I see a roundtable with Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney, it’s like finding water in the middle of the Sahara – in the sense it gives me what I so desperately need: some legitimate Cubs news to tide me over until this all finds some sort of resolution.
Yesterday, I talked about how both Sharma and Mooney singled out Jose Iglesias and Jonathan Villar as shortstop targets – all but confirming the front office is moving on from Carlos Correa in the wake of the former All-Star joining Boras Corporation. But there was a bit in there from Mooney, specifically, that caught my eye relating to veteran outfielder Jason Heyward.
Chicago Cubs are planning on using Jason Heyward in more limited role
A reader asked if this was the year Chicago finally ‘bites the bullet’ and moves on from Heyward, who is coming off the worst offensive season of his career, in which he put up a 68 OPS+ at the dish and saw his season cut short by a concussion. Here’s what Mooney had to offer:
"Before the lockout, it sounded like the Cubs were planning to use Heyward in a more limited role, appreciating his value in the clubhouse and hoping that he could return to his offensive levels from 2019 and 2020."
Obviously, since the lockout took effect in early December, teams have been barred from talking about players – so we haven’t heard any updates on the Cubs’ plans for Heyward. But it makes sense they’d keep him on and perhaps deploy him a bit more judiciously, let him be a veteran voice in the clubhouse and hope for at least some degree of rebound.
I mean, the other alternative is take a $44 million bath – and that’s going to be your absolute last resort if you’re Jed Hoyer and Tom Ricketts.
Looking at the big picture, Chicago has added several outfield pieces this winter, namely Clint Frazier and Harold Ramirez. They brought back Michael Hermosillo, with Ian Happ and Rafael Ortega still in the mix, as well. By May or June, we could see top prospect Brennen Davis and when that happens, he’s going to be playing every day.
Given the situation, it makes sense to see what you have with these young guys where you can. Keeping Heyward on the roster isn’t a bad decision at this point – but if he continues to languish at the plate, the front office may be forced to reconsider as the season moves along.