Heyward's glove makes him a trade fit for SF
Sources say Cubs could use top defender to fortify pitching staff
With Jacob Arrieta and Wade Davis exploring free agency, it's no secret that the Cubs are looking for rotation and bullpen help. And if they are looking to overhaul their roster via trade -- as opposed to free agency -- the Giants appear to be a solid match.
San Francisco is coming of a disappointing season and is eager to improve its outfield defense, and Jason Heyward -- who just won his fifth Gold Glove Award -- could certainly help in that regard. Sources indicate that the Cubs would be willing to move Heyward if they can get pitching in return, and the Giants could offer closer Mark Melancon and/or starter Jeff Samardzija.
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This hardly means the teams are on the verge of a blockbuster trade, but it will be interesting to see if talks turn serious at next week's General Managers Meetings in Orlando, Fla.
The biggest obstacle is Heyward's contract. The 28-year-old outfielder is not only owed $147.5 million over the next six seasons, but he has a complete no-trade clause through next season. Heyward has struggled at the plate the past two years, combining to hit .243 with 18 home runs and a .669 OPS. That said, he's been everything he was advertised in the field, finishing in the top 10 in Statcast™'s outs above average (OAA) leaderboard in each of the past two seasons, and winning the NL right-field Gold Glove Award in both years.
The Cubs could look to offset Heyward's salary by taking on Samardzija and Melancon, who is currently recovering from right forearm surgery. Samardzija and Melancon are due $107.4 million over six combined seasons. Neither Heyward or Melancon has lived up to his free-agent contract in his current city, and both could be classic "change of scenery" guys.
The Giants have right fielder Hunter Pence under contract for one more season, but Heyward could move to center and be an upgrade. Denard Span had -12 OAA in 2017, which was the worst among regular center fielders. He's due to receive $11 million next season and could also move to the Cubs in a potential deal.
Trading Heyward two years into an eight-year deal is a massive longshot, but it would help Chicago's roster construction, as it would open up at-bats for Benjamin Zobrist and Albert Almora Jr., who are currently slated for reserve roles, with Kyle Schwarber set to play left field, Ian Happ in center and Javier Baez at second base.
• Heyward wins 5th NL Gold Glove Award
The move would also up a trio of interesting options for the Cubs this offseason and beyond. Moving Heyward could put them even more in play for Japanese two-way free agent Shohei Ohtani or Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (via trade), and Bryce Harper after 2018 (assuming he tests free agency).
As for the Giants, they have some internal solutions. Sam Dyson, who saved 38 games for the Rangers in 2016, emerged as closer while Melancon was sidelined. Samardzija is set to enter next season as San Francisco's No. 3 starter, but it has a group of starter prospects due to receive consideration next season, with former Vanderbilt star Tyler Beede the biggest name in the group.
Following a shocking 64-98 season, the Giants are expected to make major changes. It would take a ton of creativity to pull off this kind of trade, but these are two aggressive front offices.