With Halloween being today, it would’ve been scary if the Washington Nationals had signed Jason Heyward to a long-term deal last winter
Last offseason, the Washington Nationals were one of the teams that were a finalist to sign outfielder Jason Heyward. Despite reportedly offering him $200 million, Heyward decided to sign a eight-year, $184 million deal with the Cubs that includes two opt-out clauses. Sometimes, in the offseason, the best deal is the one you don’t make. So far, that is the case for the Nats with Heyward.
In his first year in the Windy City, Heyward struggled mightily for the National League champions. He had a slash line of .230/.306/.325 with seven home runs and 49 RBI’s. While Heyward was never known for his power, the home run and RBI totals he had this season were the lowest of his career.
Heyward has always had great defense, which helped his value in earning that big contract this past winter. This season, he had 14 defensive runs saved as a right fielder. That total has gone down since the 26 he had in 2013 with the Braves, but it was still the third most defensive runs saved by any right fielder in baseball, according to Fangraphs
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During this postseason, Heyward’s struggles have continued. He is 5-for-39 this October and two of those hits came in Game 4 of the World Series against the Cleveland Indians. In addition, he has 12 strikeouts.
While Heyward is one of the best defenders in the game, the Washington Nationals were fortunate that Heyward did not sign with them last winter. It is only year one for Heyward on a long-term deal, but that would’ve been another big contract the Washington Nationals would have had on their payroll.
Washington Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo was not able to land a big outfielder last winter, but he has more money now to try to land another impact bat to put with Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth in the outfield. They could go out and trade for Andrew McCutchen from the Pirates or sign a free agent like Yoenis Cespedes.
One other good thing about Heyward not signing with the Washington Nationals over the winter was that it allowed an open position for Trea Turner to take over during the season (center field). Turner played a pivotal role this past season in helping the Nats make the playoffs and the team was able to keep Danny Espinosa’s great defense at shortstop.
Last offseason, Rizzo may have made the best signing when he got Daniel Murphy to play second base after Brandon Phillips wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause. When you look at the offseason this season, the team who signs the player to the highest contract might win the winter, but it doesn’t necessarily win the season.
As for Heyward, this season in Chicago has been more of a trick for him than a treat. That is, unless the Cubs find a way to break their curse and win the World Series.