The Chicago Cubs are very likely to encounter payroll problems again this offseason unless they can make some moves to offload contracts, but can be trading someone just like Jason Heyward more trouble than it is worth?
It has long been a frequent stage of speculation to get Chicago Cubs fans to ascertain a suitable trade for Jason Heyward. Heyward, regardless of his memorable rain delay address, has yet to live up to this massive contract awarded to him from the team in 2016.
The issue with trading someone similar to Heyward, however, comes in finding a creative way to maneuver an albatross contract. Farhan Zaidi of those Giants managed to do this using Mark Melancon’s contract throughout the 2019 trade deadline, but would the Cubs transfer Heyward in a way that’s actually worthwhile?
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Heyward is at the last four years of an eight-year, $184 million contract, meaning whatever team that could take him would also take to a significant increase in salary. While Heyward has been a superb guardian inappropriate, winning two Gold Gloves so far as a Cub, his offensive production has been under league average each year that he has been with the team.
The main reason why the Giants were able to maneuver Melancon is that they found another team needing a good reliever and capitalized on the chance. For Heyward, who, at best, plays as an above-average defensive replacement, will not exactly have a lot of takers even when demand is large.
He clearly lacks a major upside for a lot of teams, meaning he would probably have to be paired with another bit so as to be transferred. Writer Joel Sherman suggested a trade on MLB Network’s Hot Stove that, although ridiculous, reflects the idea that the Cubs can’t transfer Heyward on his own for a fantastic yield.
The issue with this is that it may be a deal-breaker for additional competing teams potentially considering additional trade chips such as Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras. A team like the Dodgers that may be considering Bryant certainly would not want to also take on Heyward’s massive contract.
If anything, the team would probably seem more to ditch his salary, but locating a match there is not so straightforward either. It might entail little to no yield (or eating a number of the contract) and probably require another bit as well, therefore the Cubs would have to locate a suitable replacement someplace else or via another trade. There is also a certain leadership component that Heyward supplies that would be missing from his absence.
Dumping Heyward would provide the team a reason to really go after dear short-time Cub Nicholas Castellanos, but the drop-off in defense will certainly be noticeable. Despite re-signing Castellanos, moving Heyward puts pressure on the team to drive hard in free agency, something not easy to guarantee together with the number of teams searching for luxury upgrades.