Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Jason Heyward was only a Minor League signing by the Los Angeles Dodgers during the offseason, but he ended up earning a roster spot in Spring Training and making a major impact for the team.
The 34-year-old hit .269/.340/.473 with 15 home runs, 40 RBI, 56 runs scored, a 121 wRC+ and 2.2 WAR in 124 games while playing elite defense in right field. His production earned him a starting job against right-handers, while Mookie Betts moved to the infield to accommodate him.
The Dodgers could not have asked for much more from Heyward, who had not posted above league average offensive production since 2020, which led to his release by the Chicago Cubs. After signing, Heyward was busy working with Dodgers’ coaches to fix his swing, and the results paid off.
He now enters free agency once again after setting himself up for a solid contract offer from another team that could push him out of the range the Dodgers are willing to pay. He could still return to the organization, but he made sure to thank L.A. on Instagram after a successful season.
In his post, Heyward highlighted his 14 years at the Major League level while playing with four “historic franchises” in the Dodgers, Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves. He also notes the Dodgers’ failure to meet their World Series expectations, but pointed out how they overcame the many obstacles that were thrown their way in the regular season.
He concluded his post by thanking the Dodgers’ organization and fans, saying he is grateful for the opportunity and was proud to be part of the run in 2023.
In addition to his on the field success, Heyward was a leader in the clubhouse and was named the Roy Campanella Award winner, which is given each year to one player from the team who best exemplifies the spirit and leadership of the late Hall of Fame catcher, as voted on by teammates.
“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 winning the award.
“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.”
That made Heyward just the fourth player to win the award in his first season with the Dodgers, joining Rafael Furcal (2006), Jamey Carroll (2010) and Freddie Freeman (2022).
Freddie Freeman pushed Dodgers into signing Jason Heyward
Freeman and Heyward have had a close relationship dating back to their time in the Minor Leagues with the Braves, so Freeman made sure to lobby the front office to give Heyward a shot.
“When I talked to Jason in the last couple months of the season, I went straight to Andrew Friedman and Brandon Gomes, and was like, ‘Hey guys, it’s a perfect fit. He’s a wonderful human, there’s a lot left in there,’” Freeman recalled.
“I stayed on them for a little bit. As the offseason went on, I talked to Jason pretty much every day, and things just kind of fell into place.
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