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.
Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.
The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.
The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.
In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.