St. Louis Cardinals
Although rookies Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty both recorded higher a higher OPS than Heyward in 2015 (Heyward checked in at .797, with Grichuk at .877 and Piscotty at .853), he should figure to be a big part of the team’s future. Heyward fits the ‘Cardinal Way’ mold perfectly, and likely sacrificed some of his power for contact and base hits out of the leadoff spot in 2015. The Cardinals win by playing solid defense and keeping up a relentless offensive attack. That includes stealing bases and grabbing an extra one if possible. Heyward does those things. The future for Matt Holliday is also cloudy, so the Cardinals really do need to keep a younger outfielder like Heyward if possible.
Grichuk and Piscotty can both play the outfield, but there is no guarantee their 2016 numbers will match their rookie-year statistics. Piscotty may be better utilized playing first base, as the Cardinals cannot be sure what they will get from Brandon Moss or Matt Adams next year. If St. Louis had an offer close to $180 million on the table, Heyward seems affordable for eight or nine years at a similar average annual value. The Cardinals backed down when negotiating with Albert Pujols, and would not give him a tenth year. Heyward does not want a deal that long, and this may finally be the year St. Louis spends big to keep one of their own. St. Louis probably has the biggest need to bring Heyward back, but they may have difficulty matching the highest offer.