Jason Heyward

Jason Heyward is just the beginning of wild trade-rumor season for Cubs

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USA TODAY

Jason Heyward is just the beginning of wild trade-rumor season for Cubs

The Jason Heyward/Jeff Samardzija/Mark Melancon rumor made so little sense – and San Francisco Giants beat writers shot it down so quickly – that Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer didn’t feel obligated to contact the Gold Glove outfielder or the Excel Sports Management team that negotiated no-trade protections into his $184 million contract.

“In that situation, no, there’s no need to,” Hoyer said Thursday on NBC Sports Chicago’s Cubs Talk Podcast. “I think everyone realized it was just a fabricated rumor. There are times when maybe if a deal has some real legs – and the player knows it has legs – that it’s worth reaching out.”

But this is how the echo chamber works now, an idea floated on Twitter gets traction on social media and then posted on blogs and recycled on talks shows and newspaper websites and pushed into Google’s search engine.

It will only get louder during next week’s GM meetings when agents and reporters stake out the lobby inside a luxury resort in Orlando, Florida. Given a talented roster crowded with young hitters, an obvious need for pitching, an aggressive front office and some financial flexibility, the Cubs will again be in the middle of the action.

“One of the things we’ve talked about with all of our players is we’re in a winning time here,” Hoyer said. “We’re in Chicago. It’s a major market. You’re all going to get rumored in trades, and you just have to accept that.

“That’s part of playing in a big market, and part of winning. If you’re in a smaller market – and not necessarily in that mindset – you can be a player that never has trade rumors. That’s probably not going to happen here. Our players have been pretty good at understanding that.”

Heyward now has a World Series ring, five Gold Gloves, a .669 OPS during his two seasons as a Cub and full no-trade rights through 2018. The Cubs essentially have three untouchables in their lineup (Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras), a middle-infield combination that would be difficult to break up (Addison Russell and Javier Baez) and three first-round talents repeatedly linked in trade speculation (Ian Happ, Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora Jr.).

“With some rare exceptions,” Hoyer said, “probably all of these guys have been rumored at some point. And I think that might have been a good thing for them to not freak out every time someone throws their name out there.”

CubsTalk Podcast: Jed Hoyer on how to handle offseason trade rumors

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USA TODAY

CubsTalk Podcast: Jed Hoyer on how to handle offseason trade rumors

GM Jed Hoyer stops by the CubsTalk Podcast to chat about the Cubs coaching staff, offseason trade rumors and why this is such a big winter for the future of the franchise after 2017 left a bad taste in everybody's mouths at Wrigley Field.

Plus, is John Lackey a good fit for the Cubs' 2018 starting rotation and should we forget about that Jason Heyward-to-the-Giants buzz?

Check out the entire podcast here:

(Try telling us that's not Kyle Schwarber on the top right...)

Jason Heyward wins his fifth Gold Glove while trade speculation simmers on hot stove

Jason Heyward wins his fifth Gold Glove while trade speculation simmers on hot stove

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.