Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
At the urging of Freddie Freeman, the Los Angeles Dodgers took a flier on Jason Heyward last offseason by signing him to a Minor League contract.
Heyward was coming off an unceremonious end to his tenure with the Chicago Cubs, but Freeman remained optimistic the veteran outfielder remained plenty capable of contributing. The two friends spent the offseason regularly working out together and Heyward quickly familiarized himself with Dodgers hitting coaches.
Heyward went on to earn a spot on the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster and played himself into a platoon role that coincided with Mookie Betts taking on more time at second base.
Heyward put together a bounce-back season in which he hit .269/.340/.473 with 23 doubles, 15 home runs and 40 RBI over 124 games. Heyward had his most doubles, homers and RBI since 2019, and his .813 on-base plus slugging percentage was a personal high since 2020.
Heyward’s impact extended beyond the field as he was a valued member and leader in the Dodgers clubhouse, which earned him the organization’s 18th annual Roy Campanella Award that is given each year to one player from the team who best exemplifies the spirit and leadership of the late Hall of Fame catcher.
“It’s really cool to be recognized by things, especially awards I feel like are about team and pulling everyone in one direction,” Heyward said of being voted the 2023 Roy Campanella Award winner.
“When you have your teammates acknowledge you and want to make sure you get recognized for it, it’s really special. Because that’s not my intent. That’s just part of who I am and have always been. I want the best for everyone on and off the field. First year with the team, it’s very, very special.”
He joined Rafael Furcal (2006), Jamey Carroll (2010) and Freddie Freeman (2022) as the only first-year Dodgers to receive the honor.
Jason Heyward 2023 highlight
Signs that Heyward would have a productive year came early in the season as he homered in back-to-back days from April 3-4, and shortly after made it three home runs in four games.
Then on September 16, he went 4-for-5 with three doubles in an extra-innings win against the Seattle Mariners.
The Dodgers re-signed Heyward early into the offseason on a one-year contract. With Betts expected to play second base on an everyday basis, Heyward is in line to platoon with Manuel Margot or Chris Taylor in right field.
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