Heyward finding rhythm — would Braves consider re-signing him?

Former Brave Jason Heyward hits a solo homer for St. Louis in the ninth inning of a game in Philadelphia on Sunday. (Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)

Former Brave Jason Heyward hits a solo homer for St. Louis in the ninth inning of a game in Philadelphia on Sunday. (Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)

Former Brave Jason Heyward hits a solo homer for St. Louis in the ninth inning of a game in Philadelphia on Sunday. (Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)

When Braves executives John Hart and John Coppolella began their offseason radical makeover of the lineup last November by trading Jason Heyward to St. Louis, I wrote they were taking a monumental risk.

It wasn’t meant as a criticism of pitcher Shelby Miller, who came to Atlanta as part of the deal, but rather who the Braves potentially were giving up: a home-grown player who could win games with his defense and speed, even when he was struggling at the plate. Because the real concern was: What would happen if the Heyward everybody expected offensively when he made his major league debut by crushing a home run ever materialized in St. Louis?

Well, it looks like he has.

After going 3-for-4 with a home run in the Cardinals’ last game Sunday, Heyward is 11-for-20 (.550)  in the last five games and is hitting .355 in June. He is hitting .279 for the season but consider his month-by-month splits: .217 in April, .284 in May, .355 in June.

There is no guarantee Heyward will evolve into the power hitter many expected for a player of his size (6-foot-5, 245). His seven homers project to 16 over a full season. That’s more than either of the last two years (14, 11) but not close to the 27 he hit in 2012. But he is finding his rhythm offensively, something he struggled to do in Atlanta, at least in part because of injuries.

This is at least the early stages of a potential Braves’ nightmare.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, “I don’t know what else you could ask for.

“The word I keep coming back to is ‘free.’ I don’t know ‘free’ from what? But I saw a guy trying to do so much he was almost bound up. … He was trying to, one, make an impression on his new team and, two, still trying to figure out the kind of hitter he wants to be. And you always have free agency hanging over your shoulder. There are a lot of things going on all at once and it looks to me like he got rid of some of the clutter.”

The Braves dealt Heyward because they believed they would not be able to re-sign him in free agency. They also liked Miller, who has been the Braves’ best starter: a 1.99 ERA, despite only a 5-3 record, and staff highs of 90 1/3 innings and 10 “quality starts” in 14 outings.

So this could end up being the rare trade that helps both teams.

There’s also this scenario to consider: Would the Braves consider going after Heyward in free agency, or do you believe that a productive season would make him too rich for their budget?

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Reader Comments 0

132 comments
SeanLB
SeanLB

We were able to get away from a very inconsistent player.  Don't reward one great season with a massive contract...if we do, we put ourselves in another hole.


This guy IS NOT outperforming Markakis.  We need hitters, not guys that stand too far away from the plate out of some fear of getting hit...

LEWWHEEL
LEWWHEEL

Hart would consider a resign for about 2 seconds then do as he has been doing, looking for consistency contact and  low strikeouts - not in Heyward's makeup.

monty1
monty1

Has he started hitting LHP?

reckingball
reckingball

Yeah, Heyward had some hot streaks whilst he was a Braves also.

Kwajbraves
Kwajbraves

Give him a standing O just like we do with Martin Prado when he comes to Turner Field but let him get paid by somebody else.

candlin14
candlin14

Heyward = Massive Bust


Let him go.... The real question is why you wouldn't keep a 600K a year Evan Gattis!!!

SeanLB
SeanLB

@candlin14 Ok, we'll rehash why one more time...


BECAUSE THERE ISN'T A DESIGNATED HITTER IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE.


I love the Bear, but he belongs in the AL.  It shouldn't be that hard to figure out, man.  

Bogey
Bogey

IF we could get him for $13-15 million per, then yes.  BUT, the Braves had 2 years ago offered him $13 million per for long term contract, and his agent came back with ~$20 million.  Plus, JHey whined on the way out the door that he felt disrespected because the Braves didn't seem to want him here.  Just because we wouldn't overpay drastically for an underperforming player doesn't mean we didn't like him.....he's not a $20m player!!


Sadly, it only takes one GM to fall in love with 6'5"/245 with speed and gold gloves to assume he'll reach his enormous potential, so he probably will get over $18m.


Personally, I think he looks/projects to be Ken Griffey, Jr., but plays more like Jeff Francoeur.


Hart, stick with your plan.  You've accumulated tons of great young talent, so plan on packaging a couple of those arms (and maybe Teheran) up to bring in our big bat in LF.  Catcher is the one real question mark for us.

maxman2660
maxman2660

these guys always have big seasons in contract year,get big payoff and then get lazy,always happens in every sport

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

Absurd question - the Braves moved on. And for all the right reasons! No looking back.

jacketfan40
jacketfan40

Heyward was having a so-so year again and the Cardinals were struggling to find the right fit for them in their lineup.  So, I guess I don't really understand why one good month would justify the effort to write this sort of article????  Could you actually write something constructive about the gritty, hard nosed team we currently and how they are reviving the city of Atlanta's love of baseball and the Braves!

Now that is a story that people will read!

BulldawgRick
BulldawgRick

No to the Hell No!!


Oh  Ok...  & while we're at it let's bring back Frenchy..  He's had a hot 5 game stretch..

Columbus68
Columbus68

No!!!!  Great move to trade him.  He has been a bust based on the expectations and hoopla.  VERY unreliable and up and down...great in the field but not a good enough hitter for a power hitting position.  NO!

JSSN
JSSN

These folks sound like Twins fans did about David Ortiz! Wonder how that worked out?

DirtyBirdLover71
DirtyBirdLover71

Nope-the Cards panicked due to the unfortunate death of that outfielder and hastily traded Miller-thank you ST.LOUIS!

Nashville Jeff
Nashville Jeff

The Who already answered your question Schultz----"Can't get fooled again"......Beating your "Heyward's fixed all his issues" after one good month drum is funny beyond belief.  You're the guy that keeps playing the shell game aren't you?  There--it's under that one...no, wait it's this one.........Let somebody else waste 200 million to finance a streaky hitter on his contract walk year.  Just don't let it be the Braves...please.  No one player is worth 20% of the Braves payroll, especially Heyward....not a 30 year old "ace" pitcher(please---no to David Price/Zach Grienke/Johnny Cueto, etc.).....BUT ESPECIALLY NOT Jason Heyward.  No how, no way. Just let Hart keep buying and trading for young pitching.  Use some of it to trade for young bats.  Can't believe that one good month for JHey and you're trying to "get the band back together."  Just guessing, but have you been married to the same woman 5 or 6 different times?....

Intruder
Intruder

What an idiotic question to try and drum up a debate, Mr. Schultz, but with 109 comments and counting, it seems to have worked. You got me.

ShootinTheHooch
ShootinTheHooch

The Braves already have a lineup full of .270 Punch and Judy hitters and didn't have to pay through the nose or give up much to get them. Why pay Heyward tens of millions of dollars for more of the same? Six number seven hitters in one lineup is enough.

Kenny Powers
Kenny Powers

But Heyward is a premier defensive outfielder in his defense. I know you fans like to bash former players and act like they have no talent but if we added Heyward there would be some benefits.....lets be honest

ShootinTheHooch
ShootinTheHooch

@Jetiredo Why is stating the obvious "bashing"? There's enough history with Jason to know what you're getting. It's no longer about potential. Yes, he is very good defensively, but three or four putouts and saving a half dozen runs with his glove over the course of a year does not make him a $15,000,000+ player with his only slightly better than Nick Markakis bat.

TEB1
TEB1

I care what he's hitting with RISP only. I like what the Braves are doing...building a team for playoff success not failure.

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@TEB1 

They are a catcher, left-fielder and a better bullpen away. One more off-season by John Hart may do it.

Redfin
Redfin

Hayward may turn out to be a solid everyday player,  and if he does, more power to him.   His past in Atlanta however only indicates that he is a streaky hitter at best and not yet (if ever) will be a power hitter.  He probably puts too much preasure on himself trying to impress the home town crowd.   Staying with the St Louis org can only be in his best instest.

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

Why would the Braves want to spend a lot of money on Jason's "potential" ?

Been there, done that !


Kenny Powers
Kenny Powers

If the Braves signed Heyward then it would be Kenny Lofton 1997 all over again in that 2 teams make a trade then the next season the other team signs the old talent back....classic Hart move BTW

ChopChamps95
ChopChamps95

@Jetiredo I actually think Heyward likes playing in St. Louis, though I'd be extremely surprised if he re-signed with them.  Lofton never wanted to play for the Braves from the time he arrived until the day he bolted back to Cleveland and all but publicly said as much.

Chopp
Chopp

Love an article that cites a player's last 20 at bats as "early stages of a potential Braves’ nightmare." I thought this was an ATLANTA newspaper? Not to mention what a minuscule sample.  These writers have got to go!  Between this non-sense and the other's ridiculous song lyrics every article, I'm not sure our own beat writers even root for our team! Go Braves.

ElStinko
ElStinko

it is funny how of the 3 locals, Heyward, Francour & McCann that BMac was the least talked about but turned out to be the best player of the group.

devounknown1000
devounknown1000

Jeff Schult - The answers is no.


If im Jason Heyward I would never come back to Atlanta this city is curse.


STAY WHERE YOU AT J HAY


GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ElStinko
ElStinko

And to the people that want to say Jason Heyward is a 5 tool player maybe you need to rethink that.  He is at best a average hitter.  Probably below average.  He does not hit with power.  15-16 HR a year is not power.  That is average.  His arm is not on the same planet at Jeff F was.  His D is ok but I have never thought great.  He is NOT an all star.  Kelly Johnson would have better numbers over a year if KJ played in as many games.

SeanLB
SeanLB

@SaveAmericaFromItself @ElStinko And our fanbase eats that crap up.  See all of the hype about how Julio is an "Ace".  Right, right...


If he was an "untouchable prospect", we need to raise our standards.  

Jerry916
Jerry916

The Braves are stockpiling young pitching.  There are no power hitters in the entire organization, so at some point you expect them to trade young pitching (Miller, et al) to acquire hitters.  KJ, Gomes, Uribe, & AJ are all on the last few legs of their career, and if they have a good season this year, will want to be paid accordingly for multiple years (see Tim Hudson & David Ross). 

GWJ0525
GWJ0525

I like the trade no matter what he does at St Louis, as he just wasn't going to do anything here.

jdcigar
jdcigar

Still a good trade for the Braves!


Jerry916
Jerry916

Disagree if you will, but if BJ (Melvin) found someone willing to pay him $15 M per year for 5 years in 2012 MLB money, surely Heyward will get as much.  


The cost for production is steadily increasing.  Markakis is earning $11 mil per so Mr. Heyward will get paid.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Time moves on and things change. Presumably, the Braves traded Heyward because they did not believe they could sign him, either because the price would be too high or they knew he wasn't interested in resigning here. I suppose that context could change, but it seems very doubtful it will.


Not all baseball players mature at the same rate. Look up Roberto Clemente's career. Heyward was a talented player who kept getting injured and then suffered a terrible beaning, all of which impacted his productivity. By rights he should have been the centerfielder last year. Jason going on a tear is really no surprise, he has a history of slow starts and hot summers.


As for Markakis, nice player but even up he is no match for Jason Heyward. Nick's top seasons are about equal in value to Heyward's at this stage, and Jason trumps on remaining career value and topside potential. Ultimately Nick needs to heal up; no GM can afford to be content with zero home runs out of right field unless the guy plays like Ichiro in his prime.

ChefTimDix
ChefTimDix

The only way I resign him is if I can rape another team when I trade him.