Rumors: Washington Nationals Interested In Jason Heyward

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The Nats have added to their bullpen this winter, but could they make a big signing by adding one of the top free agent outfielders?

Throughout the offseason, the Washington Nationals have added pieces to their bullpen with the likes of Shawn Kelley, Oliver Perez, Yusmeiro Petit, and now Trevor Gott in the Yunel Escobar trade today. Now, the Nats are reportedly going after one of the top players on the free agent market. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and MLB Network, the Nats are one of the teams interested in outfielder Jason Heyward.

Heyward, who will be 27 next August, had a slash line of .293/.359/.439 with 13 home runs and 60 RBI’s in 154 games with the St. Louis Cardinals this past season. The Cardinals traded for him last offseason when they sent Shelby Miller (now with Arizona) and pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins to the Atlanta Braves.

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Heyward does fit what the Nats are looking for in terms of adding another left-handed bat into their lineup. While he has only hit more than 20 home runs in a season once (2012 with the Braves), he is more known for his defense and his three gold gloves.

Over the last two seasons, Heyward has combined for 60 runs saved (according to Fangraphs). His 22 runs saved in right field for St. Louis this season were the third highest in the game behind Starling Marte of the Pirates (24) and Andrelton Simmons of the Braves, who is now with the Angels (25).

In terms of where Heyward might play in the Nats’ outfield, he could play either right field or center field. Last season, Bryce Harper moved over to right field, so it would be interesting to see whether the Nats would move the reigning NL MVP to center if the Heyward signing should happen.

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With Bryce Harper’s future in DC up in the air past 2019, a signing of Heyward would mean the Nationals would have one outfielder to build around should Harper leave. But, Jayson Werth’s contract is up after the 2017 season, so it wouldn’t necessarily preclude the Nats from keeping Harper.

Heyward, who was taken by the Braves with the 14th pick of the 2007 MLB Draft, has finished in the top five in WAR in the National League amongst position players each of the last two seasons. The signing of Heyward would come at a hefty price, but Heyman tweeted that Heyward has a $200 million offer at hand, and the Nats are more than likely one of those teams:

Next: Nats Trade Escobar To Angels

Late last night, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network tweeted that the Nats were interested in Rockies’ outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, but those talks have cooled off since. Nevertheless, this shows that the Nats are serious in adding another game-changing bat to the offense. That game-changer could be Heyward, who is a .258 career hitter at Nats Park with three home runs, 17 RBI’s, and a .368 on-base percentage in 45 games.

 

 

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