CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs will cut ties with right fielder Jason Heyward after the 2022 season, ending one of the most expensive and unproductive free-agent signings.
“We’re not going have him with the team next year,” Jed Hoyer, Cubs President of Baseball Operations, said Monday. “We’ve already talked to him about that. We want to give him the full offseason to find an opportunity. For us, given where we are as a group and where we’re likely going to be in the corner outfield next year, with Seiya (Suzuki) in (right field), we’re going to move in a different direction.”
Heyward, who turns 33 on Tuesday, signed an eight-year, $184 million contract prior to the 2016 season but has batted only .245 with 62 home runs in seven seasons with the Cubs. Heyward is batting .204 with one home run and 10 RBIs in 137 at-bats this season but has been on the 10-day injured list since June 27 because of right knee inflammation.
By releasing Heyward this winter, the Cubs will owe him $22 million for the final year of his contract. Once Heyward clears waivers, any team can claim him for the prorated minimum.
“I think he’s a great sounding board for the guys, but Jason and I have talked about where things are going in the future,” Hoyer said. “For next year, we’re not going to have him as part of the team. We’ll go our separate directions at the end of the year and give him a chance to have that full offseason to find a job.”
Heyward won National League Gold Glove awards in 2016 and 2017 for his defensive excellence in right field, but his offensive production has steadily dipped. That regression, combined with the addition of younger corner outfielders, made Heyward’s future doubtful.
“He doesn’t like it but understands where we are,” said Hoyer, who indicated Heyward wants to play.