by Andy Jachim
After a long and dreadful seven seasons in Chicago, Cubs president Jed Hoyer announced that the team will be letting go of outfielder Jason Heyward. I think I can speak for all Cubs fans when I say this is a step in the right direction, as this contract has been the exact opposite of what ownership and the fanbase expected when pen was put to paper back in December of 2015. Heyward’s deal has put a dent in the Cubs’ pockets for years, as over the past seven seasons, he’s made $128.7 million dollars. The production has obviously not even come close to what that deal was worth, as J-Hey’s final slash line in a Cubs uniform is .245/.323/.377. The last time I checked, those numbers don’t resemble an outfielder making around $21 million a season.
When you ask any player in the show about Jason Heyward, most of them will tell you how good of a human being he is. I know this sounds super cliché because everyone can say that anyone is an “amazing person.” However, Heyward embodies what it means to be a productive member of society, using his platform and wealth to give back to the community, as he’s in the process of constructing the “Jason Heyward Baseball Academy” in the North Austin neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side. This incredible 10-acre multi-sport facility will change the lives of so many underprivileged kids in the area, giving them a safe place to do the things they love most. Heyward was also nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award in 2020, given yearly “to a player who demonstrates the values Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente displayed in his commitment to community and understanding the value of helping others.”The bottom line is that Jason Heyward is an incredible individual off the field who was just never able to put it together in between the lines for the Northsiders.
I’d be remiss if I left out Heyward’s best moment in a Cubs uniform, which also happened to come off the field. During the most important rain delay in baseball history, Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, J-Hey’s words were a factor in the club righting the ship before heading back out to battle in the top of the 10th inning. A Sports Illustrated interview with Heyward quoted part of his speech in the visitor’s weight room as: “We’re the best team in baseball, and we’re the best team in baseball for a reason. Now we’re going to show it. We play like the score is nothing-nothing. We’ve got to stay positive and fight for your brothers. Stick together and we’re going to win this game.”Those words helped spark the eventual game-winning rally, with Ben Zobrist ripping an RBI double down the left field line, and catcher Miguel Montero drove in another run to help guide the Cubs to their first title in 108 years.
In the end, Heyward played somewhat of a role in accomplishing the most important thing in any professional sport: winning a championship. As an organization, I’m certain the front office would’ve given anything in those years to win a title, regardless of cost. They got what they wished for, and for the past few years, they’ve had to pay the price of keeping this horrendous contract on the books. I’m not mad at Jason Heyward at all. He’s an outstanding person and didn’t mean for this to go down and end the way that it did. He wanted to succeed here just as bad as anyone else, and sometimes, things just don’t go your way. That’s life right there, folks; we don’t always get what we expect. While we say goodbye to J-Hey, I am hoping this leaves plenty of room for growth for all the new outfield talent either currently in the bigs or ready to join the club in the coming year. Even though he won’t be with the club, Heyward’s leadership will still exist in the home clubhouse at Wrigley Field for years to come.