The Cubs had already given outfielder Jason Heyward a sendoff at Wrigley Field, honoring him during a game in late September. President of baseball operations Jed Hoyer had made their plans to split clear a couple months prior.
On Wednesday, the Cubs made the move official, announcing they’d granted Heyward his unconditional release. Heyward had one more year and $22 million remaining on the contract he signed in December 2015.
“What I’ve taken most from it is, how do we handle failure?” Heyward said in a September press conference. “Because that’s a big part of life, obviously, but it’s a big part of this game. We’re always going to fail more times than we succeed. And I know that’s cliche, but how we handle those things, that comes back your way.”
Heyward leaves the Cubs carrying a 2016 World Series ring, two Gold Gloves and a .245 batting average in his Chicago tenure, a reflection of the highs and lows of his time with the Cubs.
“Great teammate, he’s a great defender,” Hoyer said in August when asked how Heyward’s tenure should be remembered. “Someone that, even when he was struggling, tried his absolute hardest every day, every offseason. That’s what I’ll remember.”
When Heyward spoke in September, he was unsure of what the free agent market would hold for him this time around.
He didn’t rule out a return to the Cubs when his playing days are over, mulling over a vision of a partial ownership role that would allow him to be a bridge between the players and front office. The cubs, too, have expressed interest in a potential reunion in some capacity down the road.