According to FanGraphs, Jason Heyward was worth $12.8M during the 2016 regular season in the first year of an eight-year deal with the Cubs. If the speech he gave teammates during the rain delay of Game 7 of the World Series is worth at least $2.2M, the Cubs broke even. Elite defense is valuable, and Heyward continues to offer that on a day-to-day basis. Unfortunately, he was completely lost at the plate in 2016, and there were no signs of improvement as the second half and postseason unfolded. The sky appeared to be the limit when he swatted 27 homers for the Braves in 2012, but Heyward has racked up 45 long balls in the four seasons since (2,291 plate appearances). Wrist soreness and a hip contusion caused Heyward to miss time during the first half of 2016, and it's unclear if the lingering effects of those ailments fueled his big step back at the plate. Considering that he's just one year removed from a 13-homer, 23-steal campaign backed by a .293/.359/.439 line, and that he's still just 27 years old, targeting Heyward on the cheap may prove to be a low-risk investment that bears fruit.
Through 13 spring training games, Heyward is slashing just .143/.231/.286 with 10 strikeouts. It's still a fairly small sample size, but Heyward's revamped swing is not yielding results. After a down year from Heyward in 2016, fantasy owners have to be concerned with his continued struggles this spring. Working in Heyward's favor is his defense in right field, which should keep the 27-year-old in the lineup most days.
Heyward broke out of his 0-for-15 slump to start spring training by going 2-for-4 with a long home run and three RBI on Monday against the Angels. After enduring a very disappointing year at the plate last season, Heyward has been working on a tweaked swing that is modeled after the one he used in 2012, when he hit a career-high 27 home runs. While the change didn't appear to result in much progress at the start of camp, Heyward's big day at the plate Monday could be a sign that he's getting more comfortable with his altered approach. The 27-year-old Gold Glover still has a starting spot locked down, but his playing time could start to diminish if his production at the plate doesn't start to improve.
Heyward is 0-for-13 with three strikeouts through five spring training games. Heyward revamped his swing in the offseason, but so far it's not paying dividends. The 27-year-old had a down year in 2016, posting a career-low seven home runs and batting just .230, which was his worst mark since 2011. His talent makes him a buy-low candidate in 2017 drafts, but it would be comforting to see Heyward produce a bit in spring training to show that the new swing is working.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he is impressed with Heyward's modified swing early in spring training, the Chicago Tribune reports. Heyward worked on revamping his swing during the offseason, and so far his manager likes what he is seeing, noting that Heyward's hands appear to be working better. "It's a new toy, but the toy has a lot of potential benefits," Maddon said. "I think there's a pretty good year out there for him." Heyward posted the worst offensive season of his career in 2016, finishing with just a .631 OPS, but he's a decent bounceback candidate this year.
Heyward worked on revamping his swing during the offseason, CSN Chicago reports. Heyward posted the worst offensive season of his career in 2016, finishing with just a .631 OPS. He provides Gold Glove defense in the outfield, but unfortunately that doesn't mean much in fantasy. All eyes will be on Heyward during spring training to see if his revamped swing starts to produce results. He could be a sneaky rebound candidate in 2017 if he puts it all together, as he is just a year removed from posting a .293/.359/.439 line.