Top prized free agent and three time Gold Glove winner, Jason Heyward, has decided to leave the St. Louis Cardinals and sign with St. Louis’ divisional rival, Chicago Cubs, according to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
And by the reaction of St. Louis’ fans on social media, they’re pretty fired up.
Rosenthal reported that Heyward and the Cubs have agreed to an eight-year, $184 million contract (pending a physical), which also includes two opt-out clauses.
Chicago has been on a hot streak this off-season. In the past eight days they’ve acquired free agent pitcher John Lackey and second basemen Ben Zobrist, while adding depth to their rotation with the acquisition of pitcher Adam Warren from the New York Yankees for shortstop Starlin Castro.
With their improved lineup, the Cubs are a lock as the team to beat in the upcoming 2016 season, and are hoping to end a drought that dates back to 1908, the year they last won a World Series.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the St. Louis Cardinals’ offer to Heyward exceeded that of the Cubs in total value, but the outfielder refused the extra cash in exchange for a chance to compete for a (and possibly multiple) World Series title with a now-loaded Cubs team looking to build off their strong performance last season.
And as the Cubs front office continues to swing away and make contact during this year’s winter meetings, St. Louis is just looking to get in the batter’s box.
Along with losing their star player, the Cardinals also missed out on coveted free agent pitcher, David Price, earlier this off-season to the Boston Red Sox.
Despite their losses this off-season, St. Louis still fields a formidable team. They did claim the best regular season record in the MLB this past season, being the only team to reach 100 wins. And between their collection of core veteran players in Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina, and rising stars like Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, and Kolten Wong, St. Louis has a legitimate shot to fight for a postseason birth this upcoming season.
We’ve seen it before with teams like the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals, who battled each other in this past fall classic, and who take on new identities and become successful when many thought they were in a rebuilding stage or too young to be taken seriously.
So maybe now, with their star gone, St. Louis has an opportunity to take on an identity that resembles one of their 2011 selves, a season in which they won their 11th World Series title.
Reports have indicated that St. Louis may go after a few of the remaining high profile names out there, such as an Alex Gordon from the Kansas City Royals, or get involved in a trade for Carlos Gonzalez with the Colorado Rockies.
[Photo by Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY Sports]