Two days after the Chicago Cubs took a chance on former Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger, the Dodgers did the same to a former Cubs star trying to revive his career.
Jason Heyward signed with the Dodgers Thursday, the team said, agreeing to a minor league contract with an invite to major league spring training.
It’s about as low-risk as the Dodgers could have taken in their attempt to replace Bellinger.
Heyward, a 33-year-old former All-Star who signed an eight-year, $184 million contract with the Cubs in 2016, was fired this offseason despite having one season and $22 million left in the deal.
With the Cubs still responsible for paying the balance of that money, the Dodgers would only have to pay Heyward the league minimum salary of $720,000 if he were picked up in the major leagues this year – a situation similar to the signing of Albert Pujols the team is similar in 2021.
Like Pujols, Heyward will join the Dodgers at a low point in his career.
While he was fickle in his early years at Chicago, the 13-year veteran has reached new heights in the past two seasons as he batted .211 with a .606 on-base plus slugging percentage in 152 games.
After being placed on the injured list last June due to an infection in his right knee, Heyward did not return to the field for the remainder of the season. In mid-August, the Cubs announced they would fire Heyward after the season, a move that became official last month.
Around the same time, the Dodgers parted ways with Bellinger, opting to make their longtime midfielder a free agent rather than offering him a contract that would likely have netted him more than $18 million through arbitration.
On Tuesday, the Cubs snagged Bellinger to a one-year, $17.5 million contract.
Back in Los Angeles, meanwhile, the Dodgers are hoping Heyward can help fill the void Bellinger’s departure created in the outfield.
Heyward is a left-hander, something the Dodgers coveted in their quest for more outfield depth. Heyward is also a plus defender, a five-time Gold Glove winner in right field with game center experience.
However, to make the Dodgers roster, Heyward must earn a spot during spring training.
The team has outfielders Mookie Betts, Chris Taylor and Trayce Thompson returning from last season’s team. The Dodgers also rank high with James Outman, who flashed his alluring power in a brief big league debut in 2022 but may not be ready for a full-time role with the majors just yet.
It makes Heyward a cost-effective insurance policy for a club that continues to exercise financial restraint in this year’s exorbitant free agent market.
They’re hoping there’s still something they can squeeze out of the veteran outfielder’s career. And if not, they almost didn’t waste resources trying to find out.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-12-08/dodgers-jason-heyward-minor-league-signing-spring-training-invite Dodgers hope outfielder Jason Heyward can resurrect his career