Every fan spends a lot of time at the end of each season trying to read the free agent tea leaves. Especially if there’s a great player on their own team who is about to become a free agent. “Will he stay here?” they wonder? “Will he give a hometown discount?” “Money aside, does he like it here? IS HE LOYAL?”
These questions, however understandable, are usually beside the point. The free agent is, more often than not, going to take the biggest offer and play for whoever made it. He will almost always say it’s not about the money, even if it is. He’ll also do his best to say good things about the team and the city he is leaving so as not to upset his former fan base. We all know this dance so well by now that we can recite its steps from memory.
There’s a little dance just before the actual free agency too, and that comes when the player is asked about his thoughts regarding the upcoming bidding.
Often they’ll say something non-committal but positive about the current team. It’s a delicate balance, though, in that if he’s TOO effusive but nonetheless goes someplace else, he’ll open himself to claims of being a mere mercenary. Or worse, a liar. “But you SAID you liked it here and wanted to stay!” the fan will say, likely goaded into greater anger by ownership and their media accomplices into thinking that a player dictates the entire process of free agency and that their offer, though it may never be known, was the best one, only to be spurned by the greedy player.
None of which, necessarily, dictates the stuff Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward just said about his upcoming free agency. But it is worth reminding ourselves of the context when he says it. And here is what he said:
And it will remain ideal as long as the Cardinals make him either the best or a close to the best offer. If they don’t, the situation will be different. As is the case with just about every free agent decision there is.