The next one is a little more interesting, and that’s right fielder Jason Heyward. The 34-year-old was released from the final year of the ill-fated mega contract he had signed with the Chicago Cubs back in the 2015-2016 off-season. Heyward latched on with the LA Dodgers, where he would have his best season in nearly a decade.
In 377 plate appearances, Heyward batted .269/.340/.473 with 15 dingers. He struck out in just 17% of his plate appearances while carrying an above-average 9% walk rate. Heyward ended the season with a 121 wRC+, the first time he posted an above league average wRC+ since his 2015 season in St. Louis.
The Dodgers basically sheltered Heyward from left-handed pitching. Of the 377 times he came to the plate, only 28 of those plate appearances were against same-handed pitching. To his credit, he didn’t hit horribly against lefties in the small sample size and hit two home runs. But he’s clearly better against RHPs and hit .276/.347/.471 with a 123 wRC+ against opposite-handed pitching.
One thing that has stayed consistent with Heyward throughout all these years is his outstanding right-field defense. He played less than 700 innings out in right but still managed to rack up +5 defensive runs saved and outs above average. He still has one of the strongest outfield arms in the game, as his average outfield throwing velocity clocked in at 90.7 MPH and in the top 87th percentile. His 27.1 feet/second sprint speed was also about average.
Heyward is listed as the site’s 42nd best free agent currently on the market. It makes sense for the Pirates if they want Henry Davis to get more work behind the plate. At an estimated two-year/$16 million deal ($8 million AAV), Heyward could be a potential bargain for the Pirates if they went after him. $8 million a season for a strong-side platoon outfielder with a wRC+ around 120 and elite defense would be a steal.