The Chicago Cubs reportedly have agreed to give free-agent outfielder Jason Heyward an eight-year deal worth $184 million, which is more proof that agents are way smarter than baseball executives.
Guess we already knew that, but -- if nothing else -- committing $23 million per year for most of a decade to a player who has averaged just 16 home runs, 59 RBIs and 74 runs scored in his first six years in the major leagues is a clear triumph of new-age statistical analysis.
Heyward, you see, had a 6.5 WAR (wins above replacement) in his one season with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2015. That's a very nice number, which is identical to that put up by Chris Davis during his terrific 2013 season, even though the old-school run-production stats seem to disagree.
That year, Davis led the majors with 53 home runs and 138 RBIs. He also scored 103 runs that year and had a .370 on-base percentage.
This past year, Heyward had 13 home runs, 60 RBIs, 79 runs and a .359 OBP in 154 games, so you can see (sarcasm alert) that they obviously had very equivalent seasons.
Don't misunderstand. Heyward is an All-Star and a Gold Glove outfielder who does a lot of good things and should be compensated richly in the free-agent era. The fact that he got $184 million and -- get this, reportedly has two opt-outs in case a $23 million annual salary is considered an insult in 2018 -- must mean he brings some kind of magical mojo to the table.
The Cubs obviously think so, but their judgment might be clouded by the desire to push the Cardinals off their regular perch at the top of the National League Central standings. The Cubs already pried away free -gent pitcher John Lackey, so they're clearly on a mission, and that's just fine.
I'm all for professional athletes getting whatever they can get, since you can bet the Cubs weren't planning to turn that $184 million into season-ticket refunds if they had lost out in the crazy bidding war for Heyward. But this contract, like the ridiculous one that the Los Angeles Angels bailed out of with Josh Hamilton in April, and so many others, will turn out to be a fool's errand.
You can take that to the bank.
Obviously, in Baltimore, Orioles fans have to wonder how it affects whatever remaining possibility there was of keeping Davis. The Orioles apparently are stuck on $150 million for seven seasons and the price of poker apparently has just gone up ... especially if the Cardinals decide that they're going to have to do something dynamic to keep up with the Cubs.