Why Jason Heyward is Where the Cubs Should Put Their Money and Other Bullets

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Why Jason Heyward is Where the Cubs Should Put Their Money and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

jason heyward cardinalsSome fat Bullets in this one …

  • Last night, we chatted a bit about Jason Heyward and why he could make some sense for the Cubs to splurge on this offseason, and, in light of that, I demand that you read this excellent deep dive on Heyward from Sahadev Sharma at BP Wrigleyville. There is no chance you will walk away from that read hoping anything other than the Cubs pony up whatever it takes to land Heyward. That’s not to say the Cubs are going to do it (nor that they don’t have other plans in mind that will, when fully unveiled, satisfy most folks). I’m just saying, once you fully read and digest what Sharma’s written, you’re going to want Heyward for the Cubs. So, well, I guess brace yourself against future disappointment, because lots of teams are going to want him very seriously.
  • My path to wanting the Cubs to go big on Heyward has been a slow burn over the course of September and then the offseason, ranging from an early, “sure, he’d be nice, but they should probably focus their limited resources elsewhere” to a now, “no, Brett, this is *exactly* the kind of player the Cubs should be using their resources on.” It might take a creative contract and a willingness on Heyward’s part to live with some serious backloading (which he might not want to do because he’s going to want an opt out), but I am convinced that the Cubs should spend their money on Heyward, and then figure out the pitching the best they can via trade and the mid-tier of the market. Remember: the mid-tier market and the trade market for pitching are both very robust this year. It’s the kind of year where you can afford to roll the dice and wait out the market for quality bargains. A 26-year-old free agent outfielder who can fill a hole in center field for a couple years before sliding to a corner and continuing to produce huge value in the field, on the bases, and at the plate? I’d be much more concerned about missing that opportunity. Remember what we used to say during the rebuild? You can only sign guys when they’re actually available.
  • USA Today reports various teams’ end-of-year 2015 payrolls for luxury tax purposes (though it doesn’t list them all, for reasons not entirely clear to me), and the Cubs come in at $155 million, which was outside the top nine. If that number looks strikingly large to you, keep in mind: this is the team’s payroll for luxury tax purposes. That means it includes almost $13 million in benefits, includes in-season maneuvering, includes cash considerations from trades (which can get a bit wonky in these calculations), and includes the AAV of every contract on the books (as opposed to the amount that was actually spent in 2015). So don’t get tripped up when you discuss these things. While it’s definitely useful to know where the Cubs’ end-of-year luxury tax payroll wound up, that’s not the number you commonly think of when discussing “the Cubs’ payroll” in a given year. That figure was closer to $125 to $135 million in 2015, and is the baseline we work off of when discussing how much money is coming off the books after a given season, and then how much the Cubs can add to payroll thereafter. The Cubs are likely to be in the $130 to $140 million range in 2016, and their payroll for luxury tax purposes, then, will probably see a bit of a bump from the $155 million mark in 2015. All you really need to know is that if and when someone says to you, “The Cubs spent $155 million in 2015! Why are people talking about a $140 million payroll in 2016 like it’s not a huge cut?”, you can respond with, “Well, actually, it’s a little more complicated than that.”
  • I wanted to re-share Michael’s great piece on Javy Baez’s development, because it may have gotten a little buried by the big news and discussions yesterday.
  • I hope to get more into this piece in detail, but, for now, I’ll just link it here: a great interview by David Laurila of Tommy Hottovy, the Cubs’ Run Prevention Coordinator
  • MLB teams goofing around on Twitter.
  • Just a note:

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.