On Tuesday, the Atlanta Braves signed star first baseman Freddie Freeman to a huge eight-year, $135 million contract. However, that wasn’t the only big deal that the team made. Overshadowed by the Freeman signing is that the team signed Jason Heyward to a two-year deal that would earn him around $13 million.
This deal is just as big to the team for the next two years as Heyward plays a huge part of this team when he is healthy due to the fact that he can hit leadoff, second or third in the lineup. However, Fredi Gonzalez will most likely put Heyward at leadoff, which is where he hit when the team played their best baseball last summer.
This works best for the team because Heyward has speed that the team really lacks while hitting the ball gap-to-gap, and he has the ability to hit 20-25 home runs during a season. He will also hit .280 and steal 20-25 bases while leading off.
How is this deal just as important to the team as the Freeman deal? Well, Heyward is going to hold a spot in this lineup for at least two more seasons that hasn’t had much production since Michael Bourne left the team. He also is a Gold Glove right fielder who has one of the best arms in the game and covers more ground than most guys do at the position.
Where the two-year deal for Heyward gets difficult is, well, after the two years are up. There are some people who believe that he may call for a long-term contract close to $200 million. If he can stay healthy he will get that contract and deserves it, but he hasn’t even been able to qualify for a batting title in two of the last three years due to injury. Until he can prove that he can stay healthy, the Braves will be just fine keeping him as a two-to-three year guy.