Jason Heyward was signed to an eight-year deal by the Chicago Cubs prior to the 2016 season. At the time, the Cubs had, at least on paper, one of their most talented teams ever. By adding Heyward to the mix, the signal from the front office was clear: The Cubs were serious about winning now.
The Cubs went on to win the 2016 World Series and Wrigleyville turned into Partyville.
Over Heyward’s seven-year career as a Cub, he never finished a 162-game season as anything better than a replacement-level player. His cumulative WAR over that time was 8.4. Mike Trout has had seven seasons at or above 8.3 WAR. But how many World Series titles does Trout have?
For all the not-so-great about Jason Heyward, he did play a critical role in bringing a title to the North Side of Chicago. Would the Cubs have won without Heyward’s infamous rain-delay locker room speech? We’ll never know. But the thing is, it doesn’t matter. Because Heyward gave the speech and the Cubs won.
From 2017 right up until today, nothing has gone anywhere close to how we all thought it would go. Nothing. Not Heyward, not Javier Báez, not Kris Bryant, not anything or anyone has followed the plan. ‘The Cubs Way’ was clearly a one-act production.
As we stand on the precipice of what we all hope is the next great Cubs team, looking back at how we got here can be whatever you want it to be. It can be the most incredible story we ever could’ve imagined. It could be seen as a huge disappointment. Or perhaps it was just a really great ride that finally brought the Cubs a World Series title after 108 years.
I prefer the latter, and I also prefer to look back at Jason Heyward’s time as a Cub as something special. Heyward, for all his faults, is a great man, and he helped will the Cubs to that World Series title. A hero to many, no doubt.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) October 1, 2022