It's not like a reunion between Jason Heyward and the Chicago Cubs was ever in the cards, regardless of the team's potential need for some outfield depth. Regardless, Heyward made quick work of lining up his 2024 club, returning to the Los Angeles Dodgers on a one-year, $9 million pact.
Heyward bounced back from years of struggles on the North Side in his first season with the Dodgers, posting a 117 OPS+ and his first OPS north of .800 in more than a decade. Of course, that was largely the result of being utilized as a platoon player, but the results are nonetheless impressive, especially when you factor in the value he brings with the glove and as a leader in the clubhouse.
Cubs are finally free of Jason Heyward's $184 million contract
When it comes to Jason Heyward, 2023 was a big year for the Cubs not because he played a key role on the team, but because it marked the final year of his team-record eight-year, $184 contract. With that deal finally off the books, the hope is Jed Hoyer has more financial flexibility than in recent years as he looks to the free agent and trade markets.
The worst part was Heyward didn't even play for Chicago in 2023. At the end of the 2022 campaign, Hoyer cut ties with the five-time Gold Glover, allowing him to latch on with the Dodgers, who were on the hook for just the league minimum this year. Meanwhile, the Cubs paid him his final $21.28 million - only to watch him experience a rebirth of sorts in Los Angeles.
Heyward's Cubs tenure was, as we're all well aware, full of highs and lows. Playing a key role during the team's 2016 World Series championship run got things off on the right foot, but his struggles at the plate quickly wore on fans' patience. In 7 years in Chicago, he wound up being about 15% below league average with the bat in terms of OPS+ but still had his share of big moments.
It seemed like he really loved his year in Los Angeles and it's not a big surprise to see him return. The Dodgers are one of the best-run organizations in the sport and are a perennial threat to win it all. At this stage in Heyward's career, that's what it's all about.