With most of the marquee pitchers officially off the market and Ben Zobrist signed, Jason Heyward is about to become a very popular person. The outfielder is deemed the best available at his position as a number of teams would like to get his bat and defensive abilities on the roster right away. Heyward is going to cost a lot to acquire, so are the Chicago Cubs really an option after signing Zobrist?
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cubs are battling it out with the St. Louis Cardinals to acquire Heyward this offseason. Trading away Starlin Castro means the Cubs have the pay roll room even after signing Zobrist, but the St. Louis Cardinals are putting up a fight to keep the outfielder on their team. General manager Jed Hoyer told the media that he did not expect any moves to come during the remainder of the winter meetings, but Heyward is still a priority. The team freed up $38 million with the move of Castro and can afford to give Heyward what he wants.
"In some ways that move [combination] we made was an important step for our offseason," Hoyer said, via the Chicago Sun Times. "It kind of gives us some flexibility now to move in a couple different directions. That was an important one to help define our team."
If Heyward is not an option, the Cubs still have other players they can target. Bringing back Dexter Fowler is certainly one of them. The outfielder is playing second fiddle to Heyward, but is still a top option in the outfield. According to MLB Insider Jon Morosi, Fowler is talking with other teams before looking at the Cubs. Morosi writes that the San Francisco Giants are trying to make a quick run at an outfielder including Heyward, Fowler, Alex Gordon, Justin Upton of Yoenis Cespedes. If the Giants get their first, the Cubs might really have to move down the list for help.
The Sun-Times reports that Denard Span is on the list, but far down the list. At 31, Span may or may not be healthy. He could be a solid option if he is, but the Cubs are using him as a last resort for now. Span would be the cost-effective move for the Cubs. However, he only played 61 games last year with the Washington Nationals, which was a disappointment.
If the Cubs are willing to hand out a big contract to Heyward, they should also look at Upton or Cespedes who could command similar deals. The same goes for Gordon. All three players can fall on the spectrum of what Heyward is demanding meaning the Cubs will not take a huge hit if the Cardinals sign the outfielder first.