The Chicago Cubs marked the end of an important era in the history of their organization as the team officially released outfielder Jason Heyward on Monday. The Cubs announced during the season that the 2022 Major League Baseball regular season would mark Heyward's final season with the team and that the two sides would part ways in the offseason.
There is some form of irony that Heyward was released by the Cubs in this particular offseason. For the first time since the signing of free agent starting pitcher Yu Darvish in 2018, the Cubs are expected to spend actively in free agency this offseason. Part of the reason why the Cubs have been hesitant to spend in free agency is because of how poorly Heyward's contract with the team has aged.
Heyward signed an 8-year deal with the Cubs after 2015 with a total value of $185 million. Heyward was coming off a career season with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cubs had the belief that they would be able to unlock the power within Heyward's bat while also having the benefit of a perennial Gold Glove candidate in right field.
Jason Heyward's contract should not influence the Chicago Cubs future.
Heyward, as an individual, never lived up to the expectations that were associated with the contract that he signed with the Cubs. Heyward and his inability to live up to his contract expectations is likely a case study that is being used by the Cubs in their planning for this offseason.
The Cubs have been swimming in the deep end of free agency this offseason as they have been connected to top-tier shortstops Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, and Dansby Swansong; Japanese starting pitcher Kodai Senga; and, free agent first baseman Jose Abreu, Josh Bell, and Trey Mancini.
Of the names that the Cubs have been linked to, it seems as if both Turner and Correa will receive offers in the 8-year range with an overall valuation near $300 million. Pushback has emerged over whether or not the Cubs would be willing to match that asking price given how poorly Heyward's contract has aged with the team.
For the Cubs, it is important that they do not become too cautious. Both Turner and Correa, in their current offensive form, would be substantial improvements to their offense. The Cubs do not need to unlock any offensive ability from either free-agent shortstop. That is the reason why the Heyward contract should not detract the Cubs from another long-term investment.