Cubs to cut Jason Heyward after the season

jason heyward
Adam Hunger/Getty Images
0 Comments

CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs will cut right fielder Jason Heyward after this season, ending one of baseball’s most expensive and unproductive free-agent signings with a year left on his contract.

“We’re not going have him with the team next year,” Cubs President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer said. “We’ve already talked to him about that. We want to give him the full offseason to find an opportunity. For us, given where we are as a group and where we’re likely going to be in the corner outfield next year, with Seiya (Suzuki) in (right field), we’re going to move in a different direction.”

Heyward, who turned 33, signed an eight-year, $184 million contract before the 2016 season but has batted only .245 with 62 home runs in seven seasons with the Cubs.

He famously rallied teammates with an inspirational pep talk during a rain delay late in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series in Cleveland. Chicago went on to win 8-7 in 10 innings, ending a championship drought that dated back to 1908.

Heyward is hitting .204 with one home run and 10 RBIs in 137 at-bats this season. He’s been on the 10-day injured list since June 27 because of right knee inflammation.

After releasing Heyward this winter, the Cubs will still owe him $22 million for the final year of his contract. Once he clears waivers, any team can sign him at the minimum major league salary.

“I think he’s a great sounding board for the guys, but Jason and I have talked about where things are going in the future,” Hoyer said. “For next year, we’re not going to have him as part of the team. We’ll go our separate directions at the end of the year and give him a chance to have that full offseason to find a job.”

Heyward was a regular on the 2016 Cubs team that won the World Series and was praised for that famous speech to teammates during Game 7.

He won Gold Glove awards in 2016 and 2017 for his defensive excellence in right field, but his offensive production has steadily dipped. That regression, combined with the addition of younger corner outfielders, put Heyward’s future with the Cubs in doubt.

“He doesn’t like it but understands where we are,” said Hoyer, who indicated Heyward wants to play.

In other news, the Cubs claimed outfielder Franmil Reyes off waivers from Cleveland. Reyes batted .213 with nine homers, 28 RBIs and a .603 OPS in 70 games with the Guardians this season. He struck out 104 times in 263 at-bats.

The 27-year-old Reyes is a .253 career hitter with 101 home runs and a .793 OPS in five major league seasons.

Braves sweep Mets, take 2-game lead in East with 3 remaining

atlanta braves
Adam Hagy/Getty Images
1 Comment

ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered for the third straight game, Travis d'Arnaud hit a go-ahead two-run single in the third inning, and Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets 5-3, completing a three-game sweep of their NL East rival and taking a two-game lead in the division with three games to play.

The defending World Series champion Braves have been chasing the Mets the entire season. In the final series of the season, any combination of one Atlanta win or one Mets loss would give the Braves their fifth straight division title.

New York plays its final three games of the season against worst-in-the-majors Washington. Atlanta closed out the regular season with a three-game set in Miami. Should the season end Wednesday in a tie, Atlanta would win the division after claiming the season series 10-9 with Sunday’s victory.

The Braves won five of the last six games in the series, outscoring the Mets 42-19 over that stretch. New York had a 10 1/2-game lead on June 1 but now is the lower in the standings than at any point this season.

It was a lost weekend for New York, which came to Atlanta hoping to clinch its first division title since 2015. Instead, aces Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer lost Friday and Saturday before 15-game winner Chris Bassitt lasted just 2 2/3 innings on Sunday.

Swanson took Bassitt deep to right-center in the first with his 25th homer, and Atlanta took charge with a three-run third. Bassitt (15-9) issued a bases-loaded walk to Olson before d’Arnaud delivered a single up the middle to score Ronald Acuna Jr. and Austin Riley for a 4-3 lead. That chased Bassitt, who was charged with four runs, three hits and three walks.

Olson connected for his 33rd homer to make it 5-3 leading off the sixth, his 410-foot shot landing in the seats in right-center. Olson, in his first year with Atlanta, surpassed 100 RBIs for the second straight season.

Charlie Morton stranded runners on first and second in the first, but he gave up Daniel Vogelbach‘s 18th homer that tied it at 1 in the second. The righty struck out Francisco Lindor with runners on first and second to end the threat.

Jeff McNeil went deep off Morton in the third and Vogelbach followed with an RBI single to put the Mets up 3-1. Morton entered the game having allowed 28 homers, sixth-most in the NL.

Morton scuffled throughout his start, giving up three runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings as the 38-year-old made his first start since signing a $20 million, one-year contract to remain with Atlanta next season.

Dylan Lee (5-1) relieved Morton and pitched 1 1/3 innings, leaving after a walk to Brandon Nimmo with two outs in the sixth. Collin McHugh entered and struck out Francisco Lindor.

Raisel Iglesias faced four batters in the seventh, A.J. Minter faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen converted his third save of the series with a clean ninth.

Jansen leads the NL with 40 saves in 47 chances.

The Braves’ bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA last month, pitched 8 2/3 scoreless innings the last two nights.

BIG NUMBERS

Atlanta leads the NL with 241 homers. And the Braves have their first 100-victory season since 2003.

TWO, DARN HOT

McNeil went 3 for 5 and has multiple hits in five straight games. His average is .326, one point behind the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman for the NL batting title. In 23 career games at Truist Park, McNeil is hitting .395 with 12 runs, nine doubles, two homers, seven RBIs and four walks. … Jansen tied Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley for eighth place on the career list with 389. He’s also is the 10th closer to have four different seasons with at least 40 saves.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. … Braves 2B Ozzie Albies (broken right pinky finger) is still wearing a cast. … Braves RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique.

ATTENDANCE

The Braves drew 42,713 in their regular season finale, the club’s 42nd sellout of the season. Overall. that’s 3,129,931 for the season – and the most tickets sold since 2000. In 2019, the team’s last full season before the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlanta drew 2,655,100.

UP NEXT

Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco (15-7, 3.95 ERA) will face Nationals RHP Cory Abbott (0-4, 5.11).

Braves: RHP Bryce Elder (2-3, 2.76 ERA) will face Marlins LHP Jesus Luzardo (3-7, 3.53).