CHICAGO – After just under seven seasons, Jason Heyward’s time playing with the Cubs has come to an end.
During a news conference on Monday evening at Wrigley Field before the Cubs’ game with the Nationals, team president Jed Hoyer said that the outfielder will not play for the rest of the 2022 season and will not return to the club in 2023.
Heyward has been dealing with right knee inflammation that has kept him on the ten-day IL, having not played for the Cubs since June 24th. The outfielder had one more year left on his eight-year, $184 million contract that he signed prior to the 2016 season, but the team has decided not to bring him back.
So what was it that made Hoyer decide now was the time to cut ties with Heyward?
“Obviously, we gave him an eight-year contract before 2016. He struggled last year, obviously wanted to see how he’d bounce back from that. He had an excellent 2020 season, so we wanted to see how he’d bounce back from that,” said Hoyer. “Obviously, he didn’t bounce back that well from it, and given where we are as an organization, trying to give guys like (Nelson) Velazquez and (Christopher) Morel, guys like that playing time, and they’ll be more guys like that we want to give playing time, it felt like the right thing to do given where we are as an organization.
“I’ve had a pretty open dialogue with him about this. Jason, he’s a fantastic human being, he doesn’t like it but certainly understands where we are. I think it’s been frustrating last year-and-a-half, a lot of the guys that were a big part of why he signed here have been traded away. It made sense for both of us. We talked through it, and we’re in a good place with it.”
In six-and-a-half seasons, Heyward played in 744 regular season games, hitting .245 with 111 doubles, 62 home runs and 289 RBI. While his production at the plate wasn’t what the Cubs had hoped when they signed him to the major contract, he remained strong in the field, winning National League Gold Gloves with the team in 2016 and 2017.
Heyward was lauded often for his leadership on the club in both their championship window, including the 2016 World Series championship, and with younger players as the team has begun to rebuild their roster the last year.
A big moment of his Cubs’ career was in Game 7 of the World Series in Cleveland during the 17-minute rain delay on November 2, 2016, when he organized a team meeting in the Progressive Field weight room to rally the group after dropping a three-run lead.
It was mentioned by a few Cubs players and team executives as a big reason the team bounced back to beat Cleveland 8-7 in ten innings to win the team’s first World Series title in 108 years.