Dodgers ink Jason Heyward to Minor League deal

December 8th, 2022

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers were quiet at the Winter Meetings in San Diego, but they made a low-risk, high-reward move on Thursday, signing outfielder Jason Heyward to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training. 

Heyward, who is owed $22 million from the Cubs after being released earlier this offseason, will make the league minimum if he makes the Major League roster, a source told 

Heyward, 33, had a good amount of teams interested in signing him, but he chose the Dodgers from a couple of reasons. The opportunity to win another World Series title is still important to Heyward. On the field, Los Angeles has a lack of solid defensive outfielders behind Mookie Betts. When he's on, Heyward provides solid defense in right or center field. 

The Dodgers’ track record of helping players tap into their old selves also intrigued Heyward. Just last spring, the club signed veteran Kevin Pillar to a similar deal, and the outfielder showed significant improvement at the plate before undergoing season-ending left shoulder surgery.

Every signing and case is different, of course. Heyward wasn’t healthy for parts of last season, and it became clear his time in Chicago had come to an end. When on the field, Heyward struggled at the plate, posting a .555 OPS in 48 games. Though a small sample size, that was easily the worst offensive season in Heyward’s career. 

In 2019, Heyward hit 21 homers in 147 games with the Cubs. In ‘20, he posted a .848 OPS in 50 games. Again, it was a small sample size. But if the Dodgers can help Heyward tap into some of that offense, it could turn out to be an under-the-radar signing for Los Angeles. Like always, there's the possibility that it doesn’t work out. 

For the Dodgers, signing Heyward also comes with advantages. He has a great relationship with superstar Freddie Freeman. Both players came up through the Braves’ system and have remained close throughout the years. After the signing became official, Freeman took to Instagram to welcome Heyward.

Heyward’s presence in the clubhouse is something that also attracted the Dodgers. He was the emotional leader on the Cubs teams that dominated the NL Central in the second half of the 2010s. His most famous moment came when he held a team meeting during the rain delay in Game 7 of the World Series, which Chicago won. He may provide value even as the 26th man on the roster. 

The Dodgers still have a lot of work to do in order to improve the roster for next season. The Padres continue to narrow the gap atop the division after agreeing to terms with star shortstop Xander Boegarts on an 11-year deal.