After missing out on the top-notch starters this offseason, the Chicago Cubs have their eye on another big-time free-agent — Jason Heyward. According to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cubs are “focusing” on Heyward, the 26-year-old outfielder.
The Cubs landed John Lackey for two years and $32 million, a fraction of the cost it would have taken to sign David Price or Jordan Zimmermann, two starting pitchers the team considered in free agency. That means there is likely a decent amount of cash left over to spend on a position player. Heyward will likely land the most expensive deal for position players this winter. He is seeking eight years, and may approach $200 million.
The Cubs had been seen as a potential landing spot for fellow free-agent outfielder Alex Gordon, so it was clear the team was looking to get a little more experienced in the outfield. Heyward could be viewed as a safer bet over eight years than Gordon over five, the likely length of the contracts both free agents will sign. Heyward is coming off another Gold Glove season in right field in which he batted .293/.359/.439 with 13 home runs, 60 RBIs, and 23 steals.
With Heyward, the Cubs can continue adding to what is quite possibly the greatest assemblage of young offensive talent in many, many years. The Cubs’ pursuit of Heyward and Gordon only makes it more likely that Jorge Soler will indeed be traded before the beginning of the 2016 season. The Cubs still have interest in adding a starter or closer this winter, and Soler will become expendable if the team can land Heyward.