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jason heyward cardinals[Many updates below. Be still my beating heart. Heyward reportedly chose the Cubs.]

Yup, we’ve reached that point. Heck, we reached the point a few days ago, but now it gets the label: this is officially an Obsessive Watch.

Yesterday was an interesting day to be following the Jason Heyward stuff. For one thing, I am hearing nothing behind the scenes. Not a peep. I heard some useful things over a week ago that strongly indicated that any ensuing reports about the Cubs merely driving up the price on the Cardinals probably would be inaccurate, but, since then, I’ve got nothing. Usually I hear some things, even if I’m not in a position to expand on them here for one reason or another. On this, I must confess, I’m just following the public reports like everyone else.

For another thing, it was really hard to tell throughout the day whether we were definitely waiting on a decision – was it THE day? – or whether it was just another day of rumors in an Obsessive Watch that was going to last for a while. Sometimes, you get a real sense that, however something is going to wind up, it’s going to happen within a certain window. I never got that sense yesterday, and, indeed, it kinda sounds like other folks don’t really know when the final Heyward decision will be made/revealed, either.

The best I can offer you is this: big-time free agents like Heyward tend to sign before Christmas, especially when the market has fully developed (which, it appears has happened, even if we don’t yet know the full extent). Christmas is two weeks from today, and my guess – just based on humans being humans – is that involved parties will want to have this wrapped up before that week begins on Monday, December 21.

So, then, I’d call it extremely likely that, at the very outside, we know the outcome by Sunday, December 20. I know, that’s a long way away. And it’s probable that a decision comes long before that, maybe even today or this weekend. But that kinda drives home the point on how opaque this is – the best I can offer you is that he’ll almost certainly be signed within the next nine days. Odds are good it’s much sooner. That’s as far as I can credibly go.

As for the latest on the rumored teams, there hasn’t been much change overnight from what developed in the latter part of the evening: it’s questionable whether the Angels are seriously in, but everyone has accepted that the Cubs and Cardinals are very much involved in trying to land Heyward. The third known team to be in on Heyward is the Nationals, and, although there was initially some debate as to whether they were a serious pursuer when Jon Heyman first broke news of their involvement, I think we can squash that.

Bill Ladson reports out of Washington that the Nats are “heavily involved”, that they’re involvement came late, and that it’s “legit” that they could land him.

I definitely get nervous when I hear about the late involvement of a big-market, well-resourced team with an arguable long-term need in their outfield, and a bunch of outgoing free agents. Although some have tried to say the Nationals don’t make sense because of a full outfield already or because Bryce Harper will be a free agent in a couple years and they’ve got to save for him, I don’t think those arguments carry too much water. For one thing, erstwhile center fielder Michael Taylor is a stud with the glove, but the bat is very far from a sure thing in the big leagues (30.9% K rate last year). He could probably use some more time at AAA, or could be shopped. For another thing, the fact that Harper will eventually be an insanely expensive player is as much a reason *TO* sign Heyward now as it is a reason to not sign him now.

To me, the Nationals make as much sense for Heyward as the Cubs and Cardinals. And sometimes, when you see that kind of team popping up as a “late” arriver in the bidding, it’s because they were sitting back, waiting for the price tag to develop, and then aggressively swoop in to try and close it out quickly.

Now we see what happens today. I’m bracing myself for word that the Nationals have an aggressive offer out – there were already reports that at least one offer is at $200 million or above – and that another Mystery Team has entered the picture. We always knew it was going to be like this, though. The very reasons we want to see the Cubs get Heyward so badly – his age, his consistent bat, his incredible defense, his overall fit – are the same reasons many teams will be interested and aggressive.

UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal presumably did some digging overnight, and landed on this:

That’s comforting, though limited comfort, since it’s far from saying anything affirmatively positive about the Cubs’ chances – or even really anything too negative about the Nationals’ chances.

UPDATE 2: While you wait on more hard rumors (is that a thing?), here’s an interesting read at FanGraphs on the three known finalists and where Heyward fits best. To Dave Cameron, the Cardinals look like the best fit, and I can see the rationale. I’d argue that a piece of the analysis that would help push things perhaps more toward the Cubs is the long-term view – at 26, Heyward is great for any team, but boy does he line up well with the Cubs’ core and perhaps help them over a longer period of time than the Cardinals or Nationals.

UPDATE 3: Oh my. Read these tweets together and try to remain calm:

That does not mean that Heyward chose the Cubs, because, recall, the Angels could still be involved, and there’s always a chance that another team hopped in. There’s also a chance that those two reports on the Cardinals and Nationals are off.

But some optimism is warranted.

UPDATE 4: The Cardinals are reportedly OUT:

Further, the Nationals did have that big bid, but they didn’t get him with it:

UPDATE 5: The Cardinals got the courtesy notification:

So, the decision is out there, but yet unreported. It does make you wonder about the Cubs possibly being the team, and then trying to sync this signing with another move.

UPDATE 6: The first report of Heyward to the Cubs. Oh my:

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