A lot of Braves fans were rightfully upset when Jason Heyward was traded in November of 2014. But the Braves got the better of that deal, as they went on to acquire Dansby Swanson in exchange for Shelby Miller — the centerpiece of the Heyward trade.
Heyward played one year in St. Louis before signing an eight-year, $184 million contract with the Chicago Cubs. Although he was a big part of their Game 7 World Series win that ended a 100+ year drought, the Jason Heyward experiment did not go well in Chicago. Now, he has been informed he has played his last game at Wrigley:
Jason Heyward, who’s on the injured list with a knee issue, will not play again this season or for the Cubs next year, team president Jed Hoyer said.
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) August 8, 2022
Heyward is considered an emotional leader for the Cubs, but his numbers simply weren’t cutting it. This season, over 48 games, Heyward has a .556 OPS — easily the worst of his career. He was never a premium hitter in Atlanta outside of the 2012 season, but he was always above league average. It’s clear Heyward’s best days are behind him, but could the Braves look to bring him back in a move to save up some money going forward?
Marcell Ozuna simply isn’t working out in Atlanta. After almost winning the Triple Crown during the COVID shortened season, he has been awful for the Braves since signing a four-year, $65 million deal. Ozuna is owed $16 million in 2023 and $16 million in 2024 with a buyout of $1 million in 2025. Jason Heyward is owed $24.5 million next season ($22 million + $2.5 million signing bonus) and nothing else beyond 2023.
The Braves may have to throw in some money or a lower level prospect to make the deal work, but getting a good clubhouse guy like Heyward who can defend has to be seen as an upgrade at this point. Ozuna is good for a few home runs, but he has a ghastly .476 OPS against lefties and has been worth -11.4 fWAR in the field.
Heyward may not be much more than a bench option, but if the Cubs have any interest at all in Ozuna, this would be a great way to free up some money going forward while bringing back a guy Braves fans will love regardless. With only one year left, Heyward can be a solid 26th guy on the roster. More importantly, “shortening” Marcell Ozuna’s money by one season by swapping the contract for Heyward’s would be a relief. I’m not sure if it will be possible, but if so, I like the idea.
Photographer: Lawrence Iles/Icon Sportswire