The offseason is fully under way, with big-name players such as David Price and Zack Greinke already finding new homes before the holidays. The pitching class has reaped loads of cash this offseason with several big deals to players like Zimmermann, Cueto, Samardzija, and the aforementioned Greinke and Price. The outfield market has just as many stars available from Jason Heyward to Yoenis Cespedes. Of the top tier of outfielders, only Heyward has signed thus far. Signed by the Chicago Cubs, Heyward secured himself an eight year deal worth $184 MM. With opt-out clauses set in his contract, he could re-enter the lucrative market in a few years to reap even more. But was Heyward the right choice to sign of the four elite OFs? Heyward is known as a five-tool player, but he isn’t the only one that fits that category…
Let’s look at a quick comparison:
Here are Player 1’s stats over his 9-year career via baseball-reference:
Here are Player 2’s stats over his 6-year career:
It is truly remarkable how similar the season averages are between the two players. Everything from home runs to batting average to slugging percentage, it seems that these two players are nearly the exact same offensively. Defensively, both are known as defensive whizes. Player 1 has won the Gold Glove award four times including the Platinum Glove award given to the best defensive player in the league in 2014. Player 2 has won the Gold Glove in the past three seasons. Player 1 happens to be Alex Gordon and Player 2 is Jason Heyward.
There is only one difference between the two players that stands out: age. Gordon, a 3-time All-Star, will be 32 years old when the season begins, while Heyward, a one-time All-Star, will be only 26. Due to this difference, Gordon could be entering the end of his prime relatively soon and Jason arguably hasn’t even entered his yet. So it’s understandable that people will give Heyward more years and possibly more money per year in his contract. But Gordon is still in his prime. He was the runner-up to the Gold Glove this year, partly because he suffered an injury. Heyward hasn’t reached his potential yet, and in some analyst’s eyes, he hasn’t reached the lofty expectations that were set for him when he was a top prospect. Gordon has been in the league for years and has more experience, and simply put, he’s more reliable.
While Heyward signed a 8-year contract, Gordon could be had for 3-5 year deal worth a total of $60-$90 MM which would cover the rest of his prime years. Is Heyward really worth nearly $100 million more over an extra 4 years? Looks to me that Gordon is the smarter option here compared to dishing out $200 mil to the J-Hey Kid. But that’s up to you to decide. What do you guys think? Would you have rather signed Gordon than Heyward? Disagree with my reasoning? Give me your thoughts!