CHICAGO — Jason Heyward’s career with the Chicago Cubs is coming to a close, ending with one year and $22 million remaining on his eight-year, $184 million contract.
It didn’t pan out the way former President Theo Epstein envisioned in 2015 when he gave Heyward the long-term deal, and current President Jed Hoyer decided in August to cut the cord after this season and move in another direction.
It was another example of conscious uncoupling in which both sides part amicably like a no-fault divorce, much like the way Epstein said goodbye to manager Joe Maddon in 2019.
Only fairy tales always have a happy ending, as many of the 2016 Cubs discovered on their way out of town.
Heyward will get a chance to wave farewell to Cubs fans Saturday at Wrigley Field when a tribute video is shown during the game against the Cincinnati Reds. On Thursday he met with the media and didn’t shy away from the elephant in the room — failing to live up to expectations after signing the biggest contract in franchise history.
The offensive numbers Heyward compiled in Chicago speak for themselves, and the three Gold Gloves he earned here couldn’t make up for the perception it was a bad contract.
“I feel like I’m a very fortunate person to be in a select group of players that earned bad contracts, because there are a lot of bad contracts out there, if that’s how we’re looking at it, right?” he said.
“But to be able to show the value of myself as a person in probably one of the toughest times I’ve had on and off the field in 2016, but to still show I’m here for the team, to still play defense the way I played defense, run the bases and just to step in and step up in multiple times when I was needed, to be who I am and to be Jason Heyward. …
“We still got a ring. And it took every bit of that from me and from that group. There was no other group that was going to get that done. That (perception is) fine. I understand. People can say ‘bad contract,’ this and that. But I know I also had my hand in a lot of winning baseball on the North Side of Chicago.”
Heyward’s contributions included his rain-delay speech during Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, a moment that can’t be overstated in the Cubs’ 10-inning win over Cleveland after Aroldis Chapman served up a tying home run in the eighth inning.