CHICAGO — Jason Heyward plans to play next season, even if won’t be with the Chicago Cubs.
Heyward hasn’t been in a game since June 24 because of right knee inflammation. The 33-year-old outfielder hit .204 with one home run and 10 RBIs in 137 at-bats, and he has one season left in a $184 million, eight-year contract, a deal with a $22 million salary next season.
“I feel like I’m a very fortunate person to be in a select group of players that earned bad contracts because there’s a lot of bad contracts,” Heyward said Thursday. “So that’s fine. I can understand people can say contracts this and that, but I also know I’ve had my hand in a lot of winning baseball here on the North Side of Chicago.”
Cubs President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer said last month that Heyward won’t be with Chicago next year.
“I appreciate the real,” Heyward said.
A two-time Gold Glove winner, Heyward has a .257 average, 159 homers and 641 RBIs in 13 seasons with Atlanta, St. Louis and Chicago. In 2016 he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. But he has hit .245 with 62 home runs in seven seasons with Chicago.
He is remembered for his pep talk during a rain delay late in Game 7, won by the Cubs 8-7 in 10 innings.
“Well, I know I had an effect on it,” Heyward said. “The group was together and the right people were in the room.
“What a ride for this city, for this fanbase. The love that I receive, the love that we receive – the guys who were a part of those groups – is never taken for granted. I think I speak for everybody – we’re so happy we could be apart of that group that brought them to the other side of that.”
Heyward plans to keep a home in Chicago, his wife’s hometown, no matter where he plays.
“Have to be realistic about their roles that they think I should be in,” Heyward said. “Is that a minor league invite? Or is that a possibility of saying, ‘Oh, like we want you on this team and we’re here to win and compete. We understand what you bring in a winning environment.’”