If you go back, say, three months from today, and asked me about the Cubs’ upcoming offseason, I could have laid out an entire plan. I’d opine that they’re likely to sign a top of the rotation starting pitcher – probably David Price – and then work their way backwards from there. Maybe they’ll go after a bullpen arm, get someone to play center field, maybe retaining Dexter Fowler, and commit to Starlin Castro at second base.
Of course, literally none of that has happened.
In fact, that’s not even particularly close to what the Cubs ultimately did. Now, that isn’t to say it wouldn’t have been an educated guess – it was, and many others would have guessed the same – but it goes to show how little we can definitively know of the team’s true intentions.
In a great read over at CSN Chicago, Jon Lester reveals to Patrick Mooney that Jason Heyward was in the Cubs’ sights for quite some time. In fact, Heyward’s presence on the Cubs was one of the main selling points … when the Cubs were trying to convince Lester to sign the year before(!).
Apparently, as a part of the recruiting presentation to Lester, the Cubs revealed a projected 2016 roster that included none other than Jason Heyward patrolling center field. It’s simultaneously exciting and nerve-wracking to consider how little we had heard about their plans to go after Heyward ahead of time, especially that far ahead of time.
Clearly, the pursuit of Heyward wasn’t a merely a hasty reaction to Jake Arrieta’s dominance or an overpriced pitching market, and neither was it an acceleration of the Cubs’ planning because of the great 2015 season. Instead, it seems like Heyward was a clear top target for the Cubs going all the way back to a time when he was still with the Braves.
[Brett: Kinda makes you wonder if the Cubs ever tried to trade for Heyward in late 2014 before the Cardinals pulled it off, doesn’t it? After all, they did end up eventually trading for a one-year center fielder in Dexter Fowler. It’s also notable that, even a year ago, the Cubs were already thinking that Heyward could be a center field (as opposed to right field) option for them.]
There’s plenty more in Mooney’s piece – including a bit on how much of a surprise 2015 was, and how good the Heyward fit is – so give it a read and have yourself a smile.