Cubs planning to release Jason Heyward after 2022 season – CBS Sports

Cubs planning to release Jason Heyward after 2022 season - CBS Sports

The Chicago Cubs plans to release outfielder Jason Heyward after this season, president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer told reporters Monday. Heyward is currently on the injured list with knee inflammation and will not play again this year. The Cubs will then release him after the season. Heyward is owed $22 million in 2023, the final year of his eight-year, $184 million contract.

“Considering where we’re at as an organization, trying to give guys like ((Nelson) Velázquez and (Christopher) Morel and give guys like that playing time — and there’s going to be more guys like that, we want to give playing time — we felt like it was the right thing to do, where we are as an organization,” Hoyer told reporters (video). “I’ve had a pretty open dialogue with him about this. Jason — he’s a wonderful person. He doesn’t like it but he definitely understands where we’re at.”

Heyward, who turns 33 later this week, has not produced as expected during his tenure with the Cubs, with the 60-game 2020 season his only year as an above-average hitter. But Heyward was an important part of the 2016 World Series team, most notably giving a clubhouse speech during the 10th-inning rain delay in Game 7 to help spur the team to victory.

“I leave and I see them all gathered in that little room down there, and they had a meeting,” then-Cubs manager Joe Maddon said at the time. “I love when players have meetings, I hate when I do. So they had their meeting and the big part of it was, we’re not giving up. We’re not quitting.”

In parts of seven seasons with the Cubs, Heyward compiled a .245/.323/.377 batting line with 62 homers in nearly 3,000 plate appearances. Adjusted for ballpark, Heyward was 15 percent worse than a league-average hitter during his time in Chicago. His magnificent defense allowed him to post an 8.9 WAR, so he did contribute with his glove.

Once released, any team could sign Heyward for the minimum salary of $740,000 in 2023. The Cubs will owe him the $22 million remaining on his contract minus the $740,000 paid by the team that signs him, if any. Hoyer confirmed that Heyward still wants to play, and considering how affordable he will be, he may very well find a new team for next year.

It was widely believed that the Cubs would move on from Heyward after the season, and announcing it now is ripping off the bandage, so to speak. Now there is no mystery. Also, the Cubs can give Heyward, a 2016 champion, a nice little farewell ceremony sometime in September. Doing so would have been awkward otherwise.

Heyward has compiled a .204/.278/.277 batting line with one home run in 151 plate appearances this season. He has not played since June 24 due to knee inflammation. Heyward started only 47 of 71 games while on the active roster.

Willson Contreras and Kyle Hendricks are the only other 2016 Cubs players still with the team. Contreras will be a free agent after this season. Hendricks is signed through 2023 with a club option for 2024.

At 43-64, the Cubs have the fourth-worst record in baseball. They have made the postseason once since 2018 and that was the pandemic shortened season.

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