Earlier today, Jason Heyward decided to sign with the Chicago Cubs on an eight year deal worth $184 million. The Cardinals, Nationals, and Angels were the finalists in the bidding for the 26-year old outfielder before Heyward decided to play for his former team’s archenemies. Despite the Cardinals, and perhaps the Nationals offering more total value than the Cubs in their offer, Heyward appears to have simply wanted to play in Chicago. There are several variables that may had led to that decision(Cardinals offered a lesser AAV than Cubs), or they may not have offered the two opt-outs that the Cubs included in their contract, but the result is the same: Heyward is now a Chicago Cub.
For all those Cardinal fans burning jerseys or cursing Heyward to hurt his ACL, take a step back, breathe, and stop making a fool of yourself. Growing up a Cardinal fan, I prided myself on remaining some class even when you lose, whether that be in the playoffs or free agency. The Cardinals have made the playoffs the past four years since Matheny took over the team, and the year before Matheny took over, the Cardinals won the World Series. The Cardinals were lucky for years when the NL Central was weak division in baseball. They squeezed into the ’06 playoffs, eventually winning the World Series despite winning just 83 games in the regular season. Just because the Cubs are good now and swept up the best player on the market available, who happened to be a Cardinal last year, doesn’t mean the “classiest” fans in baseball should forget all the team’s success.
They gave their best offer and Heyward wanted to be a Cub, so get over it. Go get Gordon if that’s your man, and win anyway. Continue to play Piscotty, who could very well be an All-Star in the next few seasons. The offense should already be improved next season with a full season of Holliday, Adams, Moss, and the addition of Gyroko to compliment several roles. The team could use a bat and a pitcher, but it isn’t the end of the world. Whether they are the favorite to win the Central or not, this team is still a playoff threat, so take a breath and think before you tweet a picture of you burning a Jason Heyward jersey.
Cardinals fans are complaining the team is too conservative and weak. This was supposed to be the year for them to “flex” financially, right? And didn’t the Cubs say they weren’t going to go on a big spending spree this offseason? What happened? How in the world did the Cardinals lose Lynn and not sign a pitcher yet? How did they let the Cubs or all teams sign their best player from last season?
Letting free agents go who have played for the team is not something new for the Cardinals(Pujols), and what’s even more rare is for the Cardinals to sign a free agent that hasn’t played on their team before(Price). That being said, the team was in a different spot this offseason. They offered a franchise record deal to Price before the Red Sox outbid them by $30 million. They offered $200 million to Heyward, but Heyward decided to play in Chicago. That being said, the world isn’t over. When the Cardinals lost out on Pujols, they signed Beltran and made it to the NLCS in 2012. In 2013, they made it to the World Series. They have been in the playoffs every year since Pujols left. The Cardinals always have a young player to fill a position of need(Piscotty), or they can go out and get an alternative option.
The Cardinals’ alternative option may very well be Alex Gordon, and some people think that’s a better route for them anyway, as Gordon is a natural fit in left field after Holliday is done. Plus, Piscotty could move to right field in 2017 if he doesn’t become the club’s first basemen. The Cardinals have improved their offensive depth and power off the bench, but they are missing a transformative bat. Gordon, Upton, Cespedes could all be a version of that bat, and signing a pitcher is needed as well.
As a Cardinal fan, it is upsetting the Cubs got Heyward, but the Cardinals are not done yet. The rivalry is just beginning, and Cardinals fans may have gotten lucky in the past with the Cubs not competing regularly, but now that they are competing directly with the Cardinals, so get over it and be ready for a battle of the National League Central division. The Cardinals made two of their biggest franchise offers to attempt to sign Price and Heyward. So for fans complaining about their lack of effort, do you wish they always outbid the big markets for the biggest free agent available, or do you like their emphasis on home-grown players that led to their recent success?
Take a breath, stop burning jerseys, appreciate what Heyward did for the team, and move on. That’s what the Cardinals have done when the team has faced adversity. They’ve moved on, shifted their efforts, and have won, and it sure doesn’t hurt knowing the team still has plenty of money to spend this offseason and an array of pitching and hitting options to chose from.