The Cubs don’t know if Jason Heyward’s offense will ever return, firing hitting coach John Mallee as part of a broader shake-up and hoping Chili Davis can help unlock the potential they saw when they gave him an eight-year, $184 million megadeal.
Heyward’s name is already being floated in early trade speculation, even though he has full veto power through 2018 and specifically chose this organization and this city, even without necessarily getting the biggest guaranteed offer.
Defense is what the Cubs can always count on, with Heyward winning his fifth career Gold Glove when the results were announced on Tuesday night. Hall of Famer Andre Dawson is the only other outfielder in franchise history to win the award more than once (1987 and 1988).
Heyward is also the first Cub to win the award at any position in consecutive seasons since Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux got three Gold Gloves in a row beginning in 2004 (though he finished the 2006 campaign with the Los Angeles Dodgers).
Heyward’s teammates Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist were also National League finalists, with Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and ex-Cub/Colorado Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu winning Gold Gloves again this year.
In what should be another pivotal offseason after last winter’s overhauled swing, the Cubs are hoping Heyward can still be the 6-WAR player he had been during four of his first six seasons in the big leagues with the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals.
From here, it makes no sense for the San Francisco Giants to give up a closer who saved 47 games in 2016 (Mark Melancon) and a 200-inning machine (Jeff Samardzija) — and clear all the financial/no-trade hurdles — for a hitter with a .669 OPS across the last two seasons. Even if Heyward would be a game-changing presence in right field at AT&T Park.