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Outside the Boxcar: The Jason Heyward Zone

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where to drop the albatross egg

Divisional Round - Washington Nationals v Chicago Cubs - Game Four
Too much of this?
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

I don’t think that even Samuel Taylor Coleridge envisioned the Cubs’ current financial dilemma, centered around right fielder Jason Heyward, aka son of Carl Crawford.

And that’s putting it lightly. Heyward is a perennial Gold Glove outfielder and by all accounts a great guy to have in the clubhouse. But he hasn’t hit a lick. His swing is shuddersome. He looks like he’s trying to swat a mosquito with a telephone pole. It’s quixotic. Hell, it’s even anticlimactic, most of the time.

I don’t enjoy seeing Jason Heyward come to the plate. His defense is a thing of beauty, but he might benefit from a change. Carl Crawford eventually improved. The Uptons improved.

Whether it’s Derrek Lee wrist or whatever it is, it’s no fun to watch.

Let’s get rid of him, you say. Trade the bum. Lots of people, and even some writers, say it can’t be done. What should the Cubs do (and that one’s from last year)?

These guys don’t even have their tongue in their cheeks. They’re serious.

Giancarlo Stanton?

Cubs - The defending champs have deep pockets, but also a crowded outfield. Still, landing Stanton to put behind Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo -- and in front of Willson Contreras -- sounds too enticing to not consider. They are pretty much out of top-notch prospects after deals in the last two seasons, but a move like Stanton would mean dealing at least one from the group of Ian Happ, Albert Almora, Kyle Schwarber, or even getting creative with Jason Heyward's deal involved (something like the Cubs picking up most of the tab on both Heyward and Stanton deals). — Matt Snyder

Man, I dunno about that. I’d rather have Bryce Harper. I’d rather have money. And pitching. Or a reasonable combination of the three.

Felix Hernandez?

There is one potential match that would make sense from the financial angle. The Cubs could approach the Seattle Mariners about a trade for SP Felix Hernandez. This trade may not be likely, but the money is close to equal on both sides for the next two seasons. The Cubs would have to include some other incentive because Heyward has a much longer contract. Hernandez and Heyward are both overpaid and it’s possible Hernandez will never be the ace he used to be. Chicago could be willing to take a chance on squeezing two more good seasons from King Felix. Seattle could view Heyward as a slight upgrade over their current outfield and maybe they could be interested in Kyle Schwarber or Ian Happ to sweeten the deal. — Adam Strangis

That’s intriguing, for a second or two. Hernandez has $55,714,284 coming to him over the next two years. Heyward has $146,666,667 still remaining on his contract, with six years remaining. How are you going to make up a hundred million dollars? Why would Seattle want a second Robinson Cano? Nelson Cruz, at the $14,250,000 left on his deal? (No, because Cruz doesn’t play outfield anymore, and wasn’t much good when he did.) Mike Leake, for his remaining $66 million? Whyinhole would the Mariners even contemplate this? Unless some third team has use for any of those guys, this is a late parrot, especially from the financial angle.

We have to consider the financial angle first, so... here are the guys who will make more than $15-20 million in 2018 and beyond, as per their contracts. These are most of the potential trading partners, though, as seen above, there are no likely trading partners. The first number listed is their 2018 contract, the second their total remaining (including various options and buyouts). If only one number is listed, the player is a free agent after 2018.

Diamondbacks

  • Zack Greinke (34m, 138m)

Braves

  • Freddie Freeman (21,359,375m, 87,437,000m)
  • Matt Kemp (21.5m, 43.5m)

Orioles

  • Chris Davis (21,118,782m, 105,593,110m)
  • Adam Jones (17,333,333 m)

Red Sox

  • David Price (30,000,000m, 156m)
  • Hanley Ramirez (22,750,000m, 44,750,000m)
  • Rick Porcello (21,125,000m, 42,250,000m)

Cubs

  • Jason Heyward (28,166,667m, 146,666,667m)
  • Jon Lester (27.5m, 100m)
  • Ben Zobrist (16,500,000m, 29m)

White Sox

  • James Shields (21m, 37m)

Reds

  • Joey Votto (25m, 125m)
  • Homer Bailey (21m, 44m)

Tigers

  • Miguel Cabrera (30m, 154m)
  • Jordan Zimmerman (24m, 74m)

Astros

  • Justin Verlander (28m, 56m)

Royals

  • Alex Gordon (20m, 63m)

Angels

  • Albert Pujols (27m, 113m)
  • Mike Trout (34,083,333m, 102,249,999m)
  • Justin Upton (22,125,000m, 88.5m)

Dodgers

  • Clayton Kershaw (35,571,428m, 105,714,284m)
  • Adrian Gonzalez (22,357,142)

Marlins

  • Giancarlo Stanton (25m, 285m)

Brewers

  • Ryan Braun (20m, 56m)

Twins

  • Joe Mauer (23m)

Mets

  • Yoenis Cespedes (29m, 87.5m)
  • David Wright (20m, 47m)

Yankees

  • Masuhiro Tanaka (22m, 66 total)
  • Jacoby Ellsbury (21+m, 84,571,428 total)

Giants

  • Buster Posey (22,177,777m, 85.6m)
  • Johnny Cueto (21m, 84m)
  • Jeff Samardzija (19,800,000m, 59,400,000m)
  • Hunter Pence (18.5m)

Mariners

  • Felix Hernandez (26,857,142m, 55,714,284m)
  • Robinson Cano (24m, 144m)

Cardinals

  • Adam Wainwright (19.5m)

Blue Jays

  • Troy Tulowitzki (20m, 54m)
  • Russell Martin (20m, 40m)

Nationals

  • Max Scherzer (22.14m, 148,440m)
  • Stephen Strasburg (18.33m, 156,630,000m)
  • Daniel Murphy (17.5m)
  • Bryce Harper (21.62m)

Is there any realistic destination? I don’t think so. I could sort of stretch, and wearing blue-colored glasses, make a stab at Ellsbury. Pujols’ salary makes the Angels very unlikely, in the equally unlikely event that one would take Justin Upton off their hands for Heyward, and those are the only semi-reasonable comps as far as salary and disappointment level.

This is assuming the Cubs would want something back. MLB 2018: The Show, this isn’t. Granted that there are a couple of hundred guys between $6-15 million that could be slotted in here somewhere but a bad contract swap is (to my mind) the only out. Heyward’s deal is a sunk cost, and it may well have been the cost of winning the World Series.

Let’s make a deal. You tell me who you’d trade Heyward for, and I’ll watch my favorite movie again, as I ponder, weak and weary, over Bill James’ 2018 Abstract. You have the power to punish.

Thanks for reading.