As the 2015 season appears to have dissolved for the San Diego Padres, the team must look forward and have a plan for the future. With that being said there is a right fielder who could fit rather nicely on the Padres team. Jason Heyward provides exceptional play on both defense and offense. He is a perennial gold glove caliber right fielder with a plus arm. He also, at the age of 25 has a rather high upside.
When you think of quality outfielder, Heyward’s name rarely comes to mind. He is a quiet ball player who is not particularly flashy, but does all the correct things on the field to get his team in position to win. The San Diego Padres need players with that mindset in order to compete every season. The fact that Heyward is a left-handed hitter also bodes well for a Padres lineup that is mostly right handed at the moment.
The 2012 and 2014 National League Gold Glove outfielder was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals this off-season from the Atlanta Braves. The Braves were looking for young pitching and the Cardinals gave up Shelby Miller for one year of Heyward under contract. A hefty price if the team is unable to sign him long-term.
What kind of money would Heyward command on the open market? He would surely command a deal of five to eight years in length. Considering Heyward would be 26 when the contract started, it’s really not too bad an investment to give him a seven or eight year deal. Question is… what would he command annually?
One would estimate that he will get anywhere from $15-20 million a season. That seems like about right for Heyward, all though a hot second half and or hot playoff appearance could make his value increase dramatically. Reminiscent of what Carlos Beltran did during his 2004 season when he ended the season with the Houston Astros. Beltran parlayed his dramatic post season into a huge contract with the New York Mets. He would have already received a nice payday, but that off-seasons performance by Beltran was unbelievable.
$15 million a year for six years puts the total potential contract at $90 million dollars. That would be an excellent price for a quality of player Heyward is. That unfortunately would be the very bottom of what he will receive on the open market. The Cardinals themselves would surely offer him more to stay on their team. He is the type of player Cardinals fans love. He truly plays the game the correct way and no other fan base appreciates that more than Cardinal fans. He might not want to leave St. Louis.
The realistic contract amount for Heyward could easily exceed $125 million dollars or more. He has the career batting line of .264/.349/.430 with a .780 on base percentage. 93 home runs and 321 runs batted in. Not the dominating type numbers you’d expect to see, but still respectable. Heyward’s best statistical season came in 2012, where at the age of 22 he hit .269 with 27 home runs and 82 runs batted in. He also stole 21 bases for the Braves, but struck out 152 times. In 2014 Heyward played in 149 games hit .271 with 11 home runs and 58 runs batted in. He stole 20 bases and limited his strike outs to 98 on the year. When scouts see a player make adjustments and cut down there strike outs, they get excited.
At the young age of 26 Heyward would be a fantastic addition to the Padres. Taking a look at his WAR numbers, you really get an idea of Heyward’s worth. He has amassed a 26.8 WAR in six seasons in the league. That is an average of 4.46 WAR (wins per season) per season. That is a great number, and you must still concede the fact he can easily get better. Justin Upton has a total WAR of 23.5 in his nine Major League seasons. That’s an average of 2.61 over his career. Heyward eclipses that average, but yet Upton will always get more of the limelight.
When the Padres evaluate talent this winter, they should take a long look at Jason Heyward. If the team was offering Pablo Sandoval a reported contract in the excess of $90 million dollars, then they should at least entertain the idea of Jason Heyward in a Padres uniform. Who knows what the Padres front office has up their sleeve, but the team is sure to be active once again come winter time… * In the future EVT will offer some more pieces looking at upgrades for the team. This series titled “Looking Forward”, will be focused on 2016 free agents and or trades that the San Diego Padres could potentially be interested in. We hope you enjoy.