Despite the #SignJasonHeyward movement, the Cardinals have failed to extend Heyward. Not that it really had any purpose other than letting other fans know you thought Heyward deserved gobs of money to play for the Cardinals. Mo doesn't seek out fan preference, even those from our own highbrow frat house.
I considered titling this post "Jason we hardly knew ye" but the problem with that is it couldn't be farther from the truth. Heyward was human highlight reel in his time here. Elite defense and above average hitting and base-running will do that. He quickly vaulted up mine and many other's list of favorite Cardinals. Signing Heyward to an extension was easily the most commonly discussed topic here during the season and so far this off-season.
Not only was Heyward a pleasure to watch, he lead the team in both forms of public WAR. And not only did he lead the team in overall value, that value couldn't have come at a more important time. Just three wins was the difference between us and and the second Wild Card Cubs. Heyward provided double that. Shelby Miller had a fine season himself, but for most the year he wouldn't have made much of a difference over our other rotation options. So in that sense the trade for Heyward was a slam dunk, it was exactly what we needed to put us over the hump in one of the most competitive divisions baseball has ever seen in the Wild Card era. Now as we take our shot at a fourth consecutive division title and sixth consecutive playoff appearance, we will do so without our right-fielder built like a Under-armor mannequin.
One positive off-shoot of this is that we currently have 3 picks in the top 40 in the next draft. In addition to our own first rounder, the Cubs have now signed two compensation attached free agent Cardinals, meaning we will have two compensation picks sandwiched in between the first and second round. While I would much rather have Heyward, the Cardinals success has been inextricably tied to gaining these picks and getting future big leaguers with them. Michael Wacha, Stephen Piscotty, and Lance Lynn are all examples of this. And there are still some nice options on the market to improve the team, even if they are not anywhere near the "tremendous fit" that General Manager John Mozeliak described Heyward as.
Some options in the outfield include Alex Gordon, Yoenis Cespedes, and Justin Upton. However only Cespedes will come without a forfeiture of a draft pick. Chris Davis remains an option to upgrade at first base, but is rumored to be seeking even more than what the Cubs just guaranteed Heyward. He too will come with compensation attached. As far as pitchers remaining, mid-rotation arm Mike Leake and Scott Kazmir remain, and neither are tied to draft picks. I would expect the Cardinals to target one of those two. But I also expected the Cardinals to break the bank for Heyward, and I'm stunned that another team signed him for less than $200M, so what do I know?
More analysis on what the Cards do following this stunning turn of events will come later, but for now I'm just going to watch this video about a hundred times. I guess Mo giveth, and Mo taketh away.