Jason Heyward put on a Cubs’ jersey for the first time Tuesday. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer formally introduced the 26-year old outfielder. And Heyward was rather impressive throughout the press conference explaining why he chose the Cubs.
“My mindset is to win the World Series, and I feel I have a great opportunity to do so with this group here. They didn’t have to do too much recruiting. From the product on the field to the atmosphere, it speaks for itself,” Heyward said.
“It’s a beautiful thing, to win a World Series. I’m a baseball player and that’s what I strive to do every year. To do it in this city, it’s a no-brainer that you’d be making history. That would be awesome. You see what Theo did with the Red Sox in 2004 and reversed the curse and kinda set the country upside down with that. It would be much like that here. I feel like it would be a much greater impact. My mindset is always to win a World Series and I feel like I have a great opportunity to do so with this group we have here.”
Heyward said “joining a young, competitive team was the deciding factor in signing with the Cubs.” And he pointed out the core of the team is going to be around for a while and that’s exciting.
Jason Heyward signed the largest contract in franchise history (eight years, $184 million). Heyward left more guaranteed money on the table from at least two other teams.
“I didn’t want to take the highest dollar amount when my gut is telling me to go somewhere else,” Heyward said. “Being 26 years old and knowing that my contract would put me in any clubhouse for longer than most people there, you have to look at age, how fast the team is changing and how soon those changes will come about.”
Theo Epstein said Tuesday that all four free agents (Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, Trevor Cahill and John Lackey) signed for less money than other teams offered them in order to play for the Cubs.
The Cubs enhanced the core of the team, according to Epstein, and actually got younger through free agency. Jason Heyward is a day younger than Anthony Rizzo. Heyward was born on Aug. 9, 1989. Rizzo’s birth date is Aug. 8, 1989.
Epstein pointed out again Tuesday, even with the excitement surrounding the team the Cubs still “haven’t accomplished that much yet” and they must “stay humble and hungry as an organization.” There is still a lot of work to be done and according to Epstein the Cubs are not a finished product.
But if the Cubs do not make another move this winter, Theo Epstein said he “really believes in this team” and in the guys they have.
Center Field or Right Field
Jason Heyward is considered the best defensive right fielder in the game. And he has three Gold Gloves on his shelf to prove it. But Heyward said Tuesday he’s “perfectly fine” with playing center field or right field.
Where Heyward will play will be decided when the team comes together in Spring Training and the front office is finished working on the roster this winter.
Heyward pointed out he will have a blast playing center “if that’s what I end up playing every day.”
Joe Maddon is very happy with the addition of Jason Heyward. Maddon told Comcast SportsNet that Heyward is “one of the top five players in the National League.” Maddon thinks the Cubs have won the lottery for the second off-season in a row.
Maddon said Heyward “can absolutely play center” and compared him to Jim Edmonds. Maddon had Edmonds in the minor leagues and he was a right fielder then. Maddon said, “People were afraid to put him in center field because he wasn’t fast enough. He just wasn’t the prototypical-looking centerfielder. But Jimmy had this incredible, innate ability to be on line with his first step after a baseball.”
Maddon is “eager to see Jason play center field.”
The Cubs have said Heyward could begin the season as the team’s centerfielder. Maddon pointed out that Heyward is obviously good in right field.
The Cubs’ skipper said he could not believe they “had that opportunity to sign him” and he’s excited that Heyward is now part of the team.
• Comcast SportsNet: Joe Maddon feels like Cubs won baseball lottery again with Jason Heyward
Heyward said he was impressed with the way Maddon handled his young team last year. And playing for Maddon “is icing on the cake.”
Addison Russell and the No. 22
Jason Heyward will wear his familiar No. 22 with the Cubs. Heyward told the beat writers that Addison Russell was “awesome” about giving him the number. Heyward said he will send Russell an IOU for it.
Jason Heyward pointed out Tuesday that he loves playing at Wrigley Field. And he should. Heyward’s had a lot of success against Cubs’ pitching over the years.
Heyward owns a .311/.376/.522 line (28-for-90) with five doubles, a triple and four home runs for a .898 OPS in 25 games at Wrigley.
Jason Heyward Press Conference Reports
- CBS Chicago: Cubs Theo Epstein: Jason Heyward Enhances Our Identity
- ESPN Chicago: Cubs youth, potential trumped money in free agency
- Comcast SportsNet: Why Jason Heyward chose Cubs over Cardinals
- The Tribune: Cubs-Cardinals rivalry switches to higher gear with Jason Heyward signing
- Sports Illustrated: Cubs pointed to make World Series run after signing Jason Heyward
- USA Today: Jason Heyward gives Cubs he next great dynasty
- Daily Herald: Time is right for Heyward, Chicago Cubs
- The Tribune: Jason Heyward passionately signs up for Cubs’ quest to win World Series
- The Sun-Times: Jason Heyward drawn to Cubs’ youth, urgency and fun
News, Notes and Rumors
• The Cubs’ payroll is at an All-Time high according to a report from Bruce Levine.
• According to Ken Rosenthal, the Nationals are in talks with the Reds for 2B Brandon Phillips. And the Reds could be getting close to dealing Todd Frazier. Bob Nightengale reported the Indians, White Sox, Royals and Dodgers are showing “extensive interest” in Frazier.
• Jim Bowden thinks Chris Davis, Justin Upton, Alex Gordon and Yoenis Cespedes will be the next group of free agents to sign. Bowden lists the Mets, Nationals, Giants, Angels, Royals, Orioles and Cardinals as possible destinations for Dexter Fowler. But Fowler “might have to wait for a few more big names to sign before he gets the best offer.” Teams interested in Fowler are also believed to be in on Denard Span, so “it could take some time for Fowler’s market to fully materialize.”
• Jonathan Papelbon doesn’t figure to be with the Nationals by Spring Training. Mike Rizzo would reportedly like to trade him. According to a report from ESPN, Papelbon can block a trade to 17 teams. The Cubs are one of 12 teams not on Papelbon’s no trade list. Papelbon cannot stop the Nationals from trading him to the Braves, Red Sox, Cubs, Reds, Astros, Royals, Angels, Mets, Cardinals, Padres, Mariners and Rays. Papelbon recently updated his no-trade list, the one obtained by ESPN is believed to be current.
• The Brewers added another former Red Sox third baseman to their organization. According to Dennis Lin, Will Middlebrooks signed a minor league contract with Milwaukee.
• Scott Miller’s Starting 9: Why This Winter’s Winners Could Fool You
This Day In Cubstory
2013 – Cubs signed free agent Wesley Wright
2009 – Cubs released Erik Hamren
2008 – Cubs signed free agent Joey Gathright
2004 – Cubs signed free agent Kevin McGlinchy
2002 – Blue Jays selected Jason Dubois from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft
2002 – Cubs selected Derek Thompson from the Indians in the Rule 5 Draft
1985 – Cubs acquired Jerry Mumphrey from the Astros for Billy Hatcher and a PTBNL. Cubs sent Steve Engel to Houston on July 24, 1986 to complete the trade.
1959 – Paul Noce, born
1941 – Adolfo Phillips, born
1904 – Joe Berry, born
1900 – Tony Kaufmann, born
1876 – Sammy Strang, born