Jason Heyward's free agency is finally over, as he has selected a team. First came word that the Cardinals, the organization Heyward played for last season, were out of the bidding, which left things to the Cubs, Angels, and Nationals. Word is it's the Cubs who have acquired Heyward, according to Gordon Wittenmeyer. Chicago convinced him to sign for eight years and $184 million, or an even $23 million per year, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.
According to Peter Gammons, the deal also has two opt outs, though, where they are in the life of the contract was not specified.
The Cubs built a lineup out of prospects and young players they acquired in trades, and it helped them reach the NLCS in 2015. It wasn't enough, though, as the need for more pitching and better defense at certain positions became apparent even in a 97-win season. Heyward won't pitch, but his glove is tremendous, so he'll still be helping on that front. He also has a 114 OPS+ over the last four years and can contribute at the plate, too.
The upside with Heyward is that he's been valuable even though he's failed to reach the kind of offensive ceiling that was envisioned for him as a prospect and rookie. He has averaged over five wins above replacement per year since his debut, though, and will play in 2016 at the age of 26. He might not have even reached his peak yet, and a long-term deal should go differently for him than for players who sign in their early 30s, given how young he'll be when it's over.
Heyward is likely moving to center field in Chicago, which should help mitigate the experiment/potential disaster of Kyle Schwarber in left. The lineup now looks ridiculous, with young up-and-coming stars like Schwarber, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, and Anthony Rizzo already there, as well as Heyward and the recently-signed Ben Zobrist. They also managed to help that pitching issue out, too, by signing another free agent in John Lackey.
The Cardinals now need to find an outfielder, but the rumor is that they already have a new target: former Royals' star Alex Gordon.