Jason Heyward will patrol the outfield for the Chicago Cubs in 2016.
As the multiple reports began to post that Heyward would not be returning to St. Louis, the reactions of Cardinals fans has been as expected–ranging from frustration and anger to joy and excitement.
“It was enough hearing the Cub “fans” brag about the playoff series and now they have this to rub in” @Spoony1981
Terms of the deal have yet to be announced, but for those who felt Heyward was over-valued in the $20 million per year range, there is excitement the Cardinals can turn their attention to a variety of less-expensive options for the outfield and still have plenty left over to further address any pitching needs.
“I actually believe the Cards dodged a bullet here. Those resources can now be used to improve the team in multiple areas.” @barrynjackson
Others have noted that the compensatory draft pick St. Louis will receive in return for Chicago signing Heyward pales in comparison to the haul Atlanta received for trading Heyward to the Cardinals and then flipping Shelby Miller to Arizona.
“I think worse part is to see what Braves got for miller! We have nothing to show for it!” @Josh_B_24
Some are simply upset not that Heyward has chosen to sign elsewhere, but rather that he chose Chicago. The decision doesn’t follow the script–a player spends a year in St. Louis, sees what the organization and fan base is about, and then signs a long-term extension to stay in “baseball heaven”. Mike Matheny even gave up his number for Heyward, someone reminded. But in the end, it wasn’t enough.
“That he chose the Cubs. The fact that he is gone isn’t a big deal because he’s extremely overrated.” @TheATrain25
And with John Lackey having already ditched Busch Stadium for Wrigley Field and the Cubs having eliminated the Cardinals from the playoffs last year, the rivalry between the two clubs is reaching temperatures not seen in decades.
All valid and real feelings.
But those feelings can change as off-season continues, not to mention seasons to come.
There are several free agent outfielders still available–Alex Gordon and Justin Upton among them. Conversations this afternoon confirm the Cardinals have interest in both. Chris Davis remains un-signed.
“As long as Cards either get Gordon, Upton or Davis they’ll be fine. Team needs power. Have enough 60 RBI guys.” @jimmyirish6
Money that may have gone towards Heyward may now be re-directed to the international market and a free agent such as Hiroshima’s Kenta Maeda. “Yeah, I’ve seen his film,” said Mike Matheny of Maeda at the Winter Meetings. “Good pitcher, had a great year last year. He was obviously a standout in that league.”
The trade market is also an option as Carlos Gonzalez and other players may be available in a deal.
–With Heyward and Lackey both signing with Chicago, the Cardinals will receive a pair of compensatory draft picks. These two picks will be sandwiched between the first and second rounds, not actual slots (#28) where the Cubs were to select. In addition to the picks, the Cardinals will also receive additional funds to their draft pool which would’ve been allowed for Chicago.
This is particularly useful as teams decide how to disperse the money–it is their option to pay above or below the recommended slot value for a player they draft. Granted, this does little to ease the pain for Cardinals fans who will watch Heyward patrol the outfield at Wrigley, but in future years could pay dividends for St. Louis.
photo credit: Jeff Curry, Charles LeClaire, Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports