Chicago Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer announced on Monday night that Jason Heyward will no longer play for the Chicago Cubs. That’s a big statement due to the fact that Heyward is still under contract for 2023, but he will be released at the end of the year.
Heyward has been away from the team for weeks with a knee injury and he isn’t going to recover in time to make it back to MLB this season. The Cubs will simply eat the more than $20 million that is still owed to Heyward in 2023 and give him a chance to explore other options.
This was a strange time to announce this move, but Hoyer simply had no other choice to make. The Cubs were able to bring in Franmil Reyes to play in the outfield and there is just not enough at-bats to go around in the outfield.
Heyward was one of three remaining members of the 2016 World Series championship team, but his release won’t be one that is met with sadness. The outfielder has not lived up to his massive contract, and Cubs fans have been calling for this move for years.
You could wonder if Heyward has played his last game at the Major League level, but some team will likely take a chance on him after his release. It just simply didn’t work out for him in Chicago and his signing will go down as one of the worst in baseball history.
Heyward Had to Be Signed
Even though history will tell us that this was a bad signing by Theo Epstein, this was a move that was celebrated when it was made. Heyward was one of the top free agents on the market, and he actually chose the Cubs over the St. Louis Cardinals.
It was nearly impossible to know that Heyward would turn into one of the worst hitters in baseball, but he provided very little offense. Heyward did continue to play Gold Glove defense in right field at Wrigley Field and was great on the basepaths.
A Great Teammate
One reason that Hoyer is not releasing Heyward immediately is the fact that he is still a big asset to the team, and continues to be a leader in the clubhouse. You can’t find a player, past or present, that would say a bad word about the former All Star and the Cubs would love to keep him around as a coach when his playing career is over.
His biggest and most important contribution to the Cubs will be his rain delay speech that he made during the 2016 World Series. Heyward was hitting just .100 during that postseason run, but he continued to do and say all of the right things.
It wasn’t for a lack of effort that Heyward didn’t live up to the contract, but he just couldn’t figure it out.