The Braves traded outfielder Jason Heyward along with reliever Jordan Walden to the Cardinals in December in exchange for starter Shelby Miller and minor league pitcher Tyrell Jenkins. Though Heyward had been productive in his five seasons with the Braves, he didn’t quite live up to the expectations he brought with him as a 14th-overall pick in the 2007 draft.
As Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, Heyward thinks that his new home in St. Louis is “the best thing that could have happened to me.”
“I spent five years at this level with one organization and I still don’t know if I’ve seen the best of myself,” Heyward said. “I would say a fresh start would be good. I feel like that was kind of self-explanatory. Look at it. I do feel that this is the best thing that could have happened to me as far as playing this game, getting a new start somewhere else. Absolutely.”
Heyward also has the tough job of replacing prospect Oscar Taveras, who died in an October car accident in the Dominican Republic, in right field.
Heyward, at times a target of derision among Braves fans and pundits, batted .262/.351/.429 with 84 home runs and 292 RBI in 2,819 plate appearances. He can become a free agent after the season and has previously stated interest in discussing a contract extension with the Cardinals.
The Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.
Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:
I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.
In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.
“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”
Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.
For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.