OFFSEASON Is Jason Heyward in the Cards???

Discussion in 'CARDINALS PAGE' started by CardsShark, Oct 28, 2015.

  1. CardsShark

    CardsShark MODERATOR

    Joined:
    May 2012
    Messages:
    7,628
    Likes Received:
    815
    Trophy Points:
    173
    agents: What might Jason Heyward's contract look like?
    By Ben Humphrey on Oct 26, 2015, 9:00a 701

    [​IMG]
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

     TWEET (21) SHARE (138) PIN
    The stove has not yet been lit and isn't warm let alone hot. Per the collective bargaining agreement that govern's Major League Baseball labor relations, players cannot even file for free agency until the fifth day after the World Series' final out. Despite the fact that the Royals or Mets have not yet recorded one out in the World Series, baseballdom's eye is wandering to the offseason. Winter is coming. What might the Hot Stove bring?

    Rumormongering and gossiping are rampant. Speculation is another favorite pastime among the commentariat. That's not to say that such exercises are inherently bad. Rosterbation is fun and helps pass the dark, cold days of winter. But it's important to keep the lay of the Hot Stove land when reading tweets, posts, articles, and columns about trades and free agents. Speculation and gossip on the part of writers and front-office types from other teams are shaky at best. That's why it's important to parcel out speculation and gossip from reporting.

    St. Louis Cardinals fans will be doing a lot of this with respect to the free agency of outfielder Jason Heyward.

    It begins as it so often does, with full-time Twitter gossip and part-time blogger Jon Heyman. Last week, Heyman authored what might amount to a paragraph on Heyward and the Cardinals' pursuit of him. We'll discuss his two sentences separately. First:

    St. Louis is expected to try to re-sign Jason Heyward, a worthwhile endeavor since it gave up Shelby Milller and Tyrell Jenkins to get him.

    "St. Louis is expected to try to re-sign..." An odd turn of phrase that demonstrates the limited knowledge that national media types often bring to specific teams. Had Heyman paid cursory attention to the post mortem press conference that Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny held after the club's NLDS loss to the Chicago Cubs, he would know and could have written that St. Louis will try to sign Heyward this offseason. Or he could follow the official Cardinals Twitter account:



    Moreover, Mozeliak has likely already contacted Heyward's representation, during their exclusive bargaining window between the team's final out and the official start of free agency.

    Moving on to the idea that St. Louis's pursuit of Heyward as a free agent is "a worthwhile endeavor since it gave up Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkinsto get him." I won't belabor the point, since I've long stressed it, but the Heyward trade should not be judged by whether the Cards sign him as a free agent. Mozeliak gave up Miller and Jenkins in return for one year of Heyward. That was the deal. There are many reasons the Cards' decision to attempt to sign him for 2016 and beyond is worthwhile. Here are a few:

    1. Heyward is one of the 15 best position players in MLB.
    2. Heyward is entering his age-26 season and ought to have a fair number of seasons in his prime remaining.
    3. Heyward is by all accounts a great person and teammate.
    I could go on, but you get the idea.

    The Cardinals should never attempt to sign a free agent who they previously acquired in a trade because of what they dealt away to get him. What's done is done. The club's analysis should be (1) what that player will bring to the club in the future, and (2) whether the price to sign him is appropriate for that contribution. The players they gave up to get one year of that player should be irrelevant.

    Now for the juicier of Heyman's sentences on Heyward's forthcoming free agency:

    While the Cardinals could go a bit beyond the team record $120-million deal that Matt Holliday got, Heyward is certainly going to insist on beating Jacoby Ellsbury's $153-million deal and getting as close to $200 million as possible.

    Yes, "the Cardinals could go a bit beyond the team record $120-million deal that Holliday got." In fact, Mozeliak indicated as much over the weekend on KMOX:



    Heyman's bracketing of Heyward's likely contract between Ellsbury's deal and $200 million reads like an echo of Heyman's preseason post that included an informal poll of anonymous general managers and assistant general managers. In March, Heyman wrote:

    All things considered, the $200 million figure seemed a bit high, and upon checking, six of seven other GMs said they couldn't see it. Though one other GM, stipulating that he'd need a nice season in his first year in St. Louis, opined that he wouldn't rule out $200 million for Heyward.

    "It only takes one," that GM pointed out.

    ****

    The great majority of GMs and assistant GMs consulted regarding Heyward said they see Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury, who surprised folks by signing for as high as $130 million and $153 million, as fair comps -- and one pointed out Ellsbury is more accomplished, a center fielder and a terrific leadoff hitter.

    I found this fascinating. Heyman talked to high-ranking front office types and they attempted to tie Heyward's potential free-agent contract to the Yankees-Ellsbury and Rangers-Choo contracts. To Heyman's credit, he mentions Heyward's age in the post. But he also failed to contrast it with Ellsbury and Choo's at the time they inked their respective deals.

    Ellsbury was entering his age-30 season when he signed with New York for $153 million over seven years. Choo was 31 in the first year of his seven-year, $130-million Texas contract. Heyward will play four years under his new contract before he is as old as Ellsbury was in the first year of his Yankees contract and five before he is the same age as Choo was for his first season in Texas. The Yankees and Rangers paid Ellsbury and Choo for their decline years; Heyward still has multiple peak years ahead of him. As RB pointed out on the most-recent VEB podcast, if Heyward signs a ten-year contract, he'll be the same age for its final year as Matt Holliday was for the 2015 season.

    Age is what makes Heyman's speculation—which is really just a regurgitation of what front-office types speculated to him back in the spring—feel off base. While Heyward doesn't have the power numbers to his name that so many high-dollar free-agent corner outfielders have to theirs, he has something else that is perhaps more important: youth. Heyward is squarely in the prime years of his career. Making his MLB debut as a teenager means that Heyward is entering free agency at a comparatively young age. Year 1 of his new deal will cover his age-26 season. That means he'll have multiple years that will play at an age that typically falls within the timeframe that covers a ballplayer's peak production.

    Heyward is one of the best all-around players in MLB today. He would fit in well with the Whiteyball Cardinals of the 1980s, with his excellent baserunning and elite defense. What's more, he's no slouch with a bat. In 2015, his batting line was 21% better than the major-league average after adjusting for home park effects, which is roughly in line with his career production at the plate. If Heyman's preseason survey of MLB front office is to be believed, Heyward's underwhelming power numbers and all-around value might very well make him an undervalued free agent. The Cardinals would do well to sign Heyward to a deal worth between $153 million and $200 million.
     
  2. CardsShark

    CardsShark MODERATOR

    Joined:
    May 2012
    Messages:
    7,628
    Likes Received:
    815
    Trophy Points:
    173
    The Cardinals need to get some offense... They can't go with the same team and expect to score more runs... I mean they might because some of our young guys were hurt for a long time. On the other hand I like the signing of Heyward and if they could pull that off it would be a record signing.

    The Cardinals just got a new contract when it comes to TV. They have 3m fans to count on year to year and they also have Ball Park Village. Which makes them that much more money...

    This team might be called a small market or mid market, however they can start playing like a big market. The thing I would like to see this team do is bring back Jason Heyward and sure up that bench with players that Matheny can use on a Daliy basis so those regulars don't get worn down again.

    Then they need to look into the pen as well as the starting pitching.. I like Lackey and what he could bring but with all that money they could bring in someone like a Price. Just imagine Waino,Price,Martinez,Wacha,Lynn.. Trade Garcia for some nice pen help and put a one year option on Lackey so we can get a draft pick.

    The Cardinals have a lot of work to do and I trust MOE to get it done.
     
  3. irish

    irish DSP Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Nov 2011
    Messages:
    49,446
    Likes Received:
    28,046
    Trophy Points:
    278
    i think he follows the $$$
     
  4. CardsShark

    CardsShark MODERATOR

    Joined:
    May 2012
    Messages:
    7,628
    Likes Received:
    815
    Trophy Points:
    173
    If the Cardinals throw out a fair offer like they did Pujols. That is all I can hope for. Now if he goes else where it's not like Heyward is the heart and soul of this team.

    The Cardinals aren't held captive by his decision. There are a lot of ways the Cards can go..

    I have a gut feeling the Cards are going to bring the pain this upcoming offseason..
     
    irish likes this.
  5. CardsShark

    CardsShark MODERATOR

    Joined:
    May 2012
    Messages:
    7,628
    Likes Received:
    815
    Trophy Points:
    173
    Free Agent Profile: Jason Heyward

    By Jeff Todd | October 30, 2015 at 6:10pm CDT

    Jason Heyward hasn’t maintained the power output that many once predicted, but he’ll hit the market at a very young age while playing at quite a high level and should be paid accordingly.

    Strengths/Pros

    There’s a lot to like about Heyward‘s all-around game, as he rates as a positive in essentially every area. His tools are undeniable, and he’s turned them into tangible production in most regards.

    Heyward‘s best single attribute might be his glove. Ultimate Zone and Defensive Runs Saved ledgers are filled with big numbers, as he’s consistently rated as an outstanding right fielder. Since he debuted in 2010, Heyward has easily paced all outfielders in accumulated UZR (Alex Gordon‘s 68.3 UZR is second to Heyward‘s 96.2). Though his arm is more solid/good than great, he excels in the range department and isn’t prone to mistakes. Given his age and remarkable consistency, this is about as bankable a skill as one could hope to find.

    [​IMG]

    Another often-underappreciated source of value is the basepaths, and Heyward excels there, too. He’s a fairly consistent source of twenty stolen bases, and more importantly, draws excellent overall marks. Indeed, Heyward ranked fifth in all of baseball in 2015 in Fangraphs’ BsR metric (the baserunning component of fWAR) and sits in the top thirty since his rookie year.

    Heyward isn’t quite as outstanding with the bat — if he was, we’d be looking at Mike Trout‘s theoretical free agent case — but he’s hardly a liability. He’s reached base at a solid .353 clip and walked at a strong 10.8% rate for his career. Though Heyward‘s power has not returned to its peak 2012 levels (27 home runs, .210 ISO, .479 SLG), he’s significantly cut back on the strikeouts since and now sits at about a 15% K rate, well below the league average.

    Having only just turned 26, it’s not at all out of the question that Heyward could still tap into some pop, particularly since he’s shown the ability to do so at the major league level. His HR/FB rate did land at 12.0%, near his historical norm, after it fell to 6.5% in 2014.

    It’s also worth noting that Heyward has also continued to improve in the plate discipline department over the years, showing that he’s continuing to hone his craft. His chase rate and overall swing percentage have dropped every year since 2012, and his contact numbers have risen: in his most recent campaign, he posted a 93.8% in-zone contact rate.

    By measure of wRC+, Heyward has been 18% better than the league-average batter over his career and was slightly north of that in 2015, when he slashed .293/.359/.439. He’s been a consistently above-average performer at the plate, apart from a fairly mild sophomore slump, and also shown the ability to hit the ball to all fields. All said, there’s a lot to like about Heyward at the plate.

    But the biggest reason that Heyward‘s free agent guarantee will likely place at or near the very top of the market is his age. Though he’s already racked up six full years of MLB service, Heyward won’t turn 27 until next August, making him a rare free agent who still could have much of his prime ahead of him. For some context, consider that Alex Gordon — another top free agent corner outfielder this year — had his breakout 2011 campaign in his age-27 season. Gordon, one of Heyward’s chief competitors this winter, is a full five years older.

    The total package makes Heyward one of the game’s best overall players. He hasn’t put up a single huge season, really, but consistently registers excellent campaigns. Somewhat quietly, he’s accumulated more fWAR since 2010 than any outfielder not named Trout, McCutchen, or Bautista. (He sits 11th overall among position players.)

    That’s due in part, also, to his solid record of durability. Heyward has averaged 139 games and 572 plate appearances per year — good, but not great — but has mostly missed time due to bad luck (e.g., appendectomy, broken jaw).

    Weaknesses/Cons

    There’s really no broad area in which Heyward fares particularly poorly, but there are certainly some rather significant factors that hold down his value.

    The power conundrum certainly rates at the top of the list. As discussed above, it is a huge question for him. His established 27-homer upside remains tantalizing. Were he a reliable source of 25 home runs, his earning power would be astronomical. But, that’s not how things have shaken out in recent seasons. Heyward’s isolated power hasn’t exceeded .150 in either of the last two years, and he hasn’t popped more than 14 long balls since his 2012 campaign.

    As a result, some teams looking at the idea of committing huge money over a lengthy term will certainly feel some uncertainty. If you believe that Heyward has settled in as a 12-to-15 annual home run level of power, then any fall-off in his speed and defense could leave him as an even less exciting player than he already is. Two fairly recent, seven-year free agent deals with non-power-hitting, average-OBP outfielders — Jacoby Ellsbury ($153MM) and Carl Crawford ($142MM) — have fallen flat.

    We discussed Heyward’s increasing contact tendencies above, and that does have some benefits (e.g., his improving strikeout numbers). But the list of elite contact makers is also riddled with slap hitters, and there are some concerns in Heyward’s batted-ball profile. Last year, his groundball/flyball ratio was way out of whack when compared to career norms. After consistently hitting in the range of 45% groundballs against 35% flyballs annually, Heyward saw his groundball rate shoot up to 57.2% while his flies plummeted to 23.5%. That could be a one-year blip, but it’s not the most encouraging sign to see so many balls hitting the ground.

    Likewise, Heyward has traditionally struggled against left-handed pitching. He increased his output to about league-average in 2015, but he’s running a .230/.309/.351 batting line for his career. When weighing a decade-long commitment (or thereabouts), it’d probably be preferable not to be wondering whether and how soon you’ll need to find a platoon mate.

    Personal

    Heyward was born in New Jersey but grew up in Georgia and excelled there as a high school ballplayer. He wears the number 22 to honor the memory of his former high school teammate, Andrew Wilmot.

    As Peter Gammons explored in an interesting 2010 piece, Heyward is the product of a well-educated and thoughtful family. Even as his son participated in competitive youth baseball, Heyward’s dedicated father made sure the focus remained on having fun. Even as he was just entering the big leagues, Heyward drew rave reviews from teammates, coaches, and scouts for his hard work, and he’s only enhanced that reputation since.

    “I love to play. I love to play hard,” Heyward himself explained. “I try to play the right way. I was brought up by parents who taught me to treat everyone with respect, to treat them the way I want to be treated.”

    Market

    Heyward is a special free agent because of his age and consistent level of production. That his annual earning power isn’t exceptional could keep more teams in the hunt than might otherwise be the case, and of course some will see an opportunity to buy up still-undervalued skills.

    It’s hard to completely rule out any large market clubs, because other roster moves could always be made to free space for this kind of opportunity. Organizations such as the Angels, Tigers, Giants, and Mariners have the means and, quite possibly, the need for Heyward. The Cardinals don’t generally chase top-of-the-market free agents, but just had him for a year and gave Matt Holliday big money under similar circumstances. There’d be a nice fit with the White Sox, Orioles, Astros, Royals, and Padres, if they’re willing to spend beyond their typical levels. Meanwhile, big spenders such as the Yankees — but also, theoretically, including the Cubs, Dodgers, Rangers, and Nationals — could make room for Heyward if they feel the opportunity is just too good to pass up.

    Expected Contract

    There’s a range of possibilities here, as always, but I’m guessing Heyward will command a longer deal at a slightly lesser average annual value. Ellsbury’s deal came at just under $22MM in AAV, and even Crawford cracked $20MM annually (five years ago). It’s hard to put Heyward in the same production bracket as Robinson Cano (ten years, $240MM), and you could argue that he’s not as valuable a free agent as was Prince Fielder (nine years, $214MM), depending upon how one values defense and baserunning. But those signings show that super-length contracts at still-significant AAVs can be had.

    It’s important to note, also, that Heyward looks like a prime candidate to negotiate an opt-out clause into his deal. Given his age, he’d probably see value in having the right to return to free agency after a reasonable stretch. (After all, as MLBTR’s Steve Adams points out, even five years from now Heyward will still be younger than Gordon is as he hits the market this winter.) And Heyward is represented by Excel Sports Management’s Casey Close, who has guided clients such as Zack Greinke and Masahiro Tanaka to opt-out arrangements.

    My prediction: ten years, $200MM.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
     

Share This Page