St. Louis Cardinals, Jason Heyward Almost Certain to Part Ways


This morning, St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports columnist Jeff Gordon nailed my thoughts on the St. Louis Cardinals and Jason Heyward this winter.

"If the bidding gets crazy, the Cardinals will need to maintain sanity."

Source: Tipsheet: Heyward about to get overpaid : Sports

Newsflash: It’s going to get crazy.

Breathless analyses about the outfielder’s youth and potential haven’t been this loud since he was a prospect in the Atlanta Braves’ system. You’d think Heyward was a teenage phenom given all the certainty among talking heads (many of whom are included in Gordon’s column) that he deserves 10 years and $200 million from his next team.

Fox Sports baseball writer Ken Rosenthal threw some kindling on the fire this morning, suggesting that a $200 million deal is perfectly realistic if recent history is any guide. Here is some of what he wrote:

"Jacoby Ellsbury signed a seven-year, $153 million contract entering his age 30 season. Carl Crawford signed a seven-year, $142 million contract entering his age 29 season."

As we all know, Heyward was 26 years old as a St. Louis Cardinal, and as Rosenthal wrote, he played fine (but not great) this year. The team that signs Heyward will be paying for the prospect of a breakout year.

So where does this leave the St. Louis Cardinals? Today and yesterday, we speculated on David Price and Johnny Cueto signings in the wake of losing Lance Lynn for a year thanks to Tommy John surgery. Lynn’s fate, however, is all the more reason why the St. Louis Cardinals should NOT break the bank on a pitcher. No one can guarantee a pitcher’s health. Not even the best trainers in professional sports.

Which brings the St. Louis Cardinals budget back to Heyward. The Kansas City Star‘s excellent Andy

Long term, the Cardinals didn’t miss this guy when he bolted in 2011. They won’t miss Heyward, either. Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

McCullough wrote a column today in which he compared the situation the Kansas City Royals face with free agent left fielder Alex Gordon with the St. Louis Cardinals’ decision with Albert Pujols in 2011.

McCullough asked St. Louis Cardinals GM John Mozeliak about it:

"“You’re trying to find a place where you can find balance,” Mozeliak said Wednesday at the GM meetings at the Boca Raton Resort and Club. “But in the free-agent market, that might not necessarily come to fruition. Then it ultimately comes down to what might be your next best alternative.”"

Mozeliak and the St. Louis Cardinals declined to match the Los Angeles Angels’ 10-year $240 million offer for Pujols back then. And I think they’ll decline to match whatever club — the strangely quiet Los Angeles Dodgers? — offers him that massive $200 million deal.

There have been no firm reports indicating Heyward’s party is leaning in any particular direction. Mozeliak is mum. But already this free agency period has a strange vibe about it, and that vibe includes a feeling that Heyward is already gone. If the Cardinals maintain their sanity, that is.

We should all grab a pint of ice cream wrap our collective minds wrapped around that now.