The wait is over for impatient St. Louis Cardinals fans, but the decision from free agent Jason Heyward was not what many wanted.
According to multiple reports Friday afternoon, the outfielder has decided to join the Chicago Cubs via an eight-year deal worth $184 million.
The 26-year-old is leaving behind the Cubs’ National League Central Division rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals, after one season. Last November, Heyward was acquired in a trade with Atlanta for pitchers Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins. With St. Louis, he hit .293 with 13 home runs, 60 RBI, 23 stolen bases and earned his third Gold Glove Award.
Reports indicate that both the Cardinals and the Washington Nationals offered more money, around $200 million each, but likely for more years as well, as the Chicago bid is believed to have a higher average annual value. In addition, Heyward can opt-out of the Cubs contract after either year three or four if he exceeds plate appearance thresholds, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
Earlier, Chicago signed the Cardinals’ other top free agent, right-handed pitcher John Lackey, to a two-year, $32 million contract. As a result, the Cubs will lose their two highest picks in the 2016 First-Year Player Draft and St. Louis will receive two compensatory picks between the first and second rounds of the upcoming draft.
Already having lost out on left-handed pitcher David Price despite a reported $190 million offer, the Cardinals will now apparently turn their attention to other free agents and trades, potentially for outfielders and starting pitchers, to replace the two lost via free agency.
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