Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Jason Heyward found a home with the Los Angeles Dodgers since signing a Minor League deal with the club last offseason, joining a roster that also includes his close friend Freddie Freeman.
Heading into free agency, a return to the Dodgers seemed likely with the need and their mutual interest in getting a deal done. The 14-year veteran outfielder ultimately re-signed on a one-year contract for the 2024 season worth $9 million.
It was the first notable signing for the Dodgers early in the offseason, shoring-up a key platoon bat against right-handed pitching.
“It’s amazing to have people believe in you,” Heyward said. “That’s something that’s earned, for sure. Especially with the Dodgers. They don’t hand out these jerseys lightly. It’s just a privilege to come back here and wear No. 23 for this group, this fan base and city.
“Just want to work hard, have fun and compete.”
Heyward made 98 starts in 2023, appearing in 124 games with the Dodgers with all his starts against right-handed pitchers. He batted .269/.340/.473 with 23 doubles, 15 home runs, 40 RBI, 56 runs scored.
His resurgence with the Dodgers follows a two-year stretch after his former team, the Chicago Cubs, released him following the 2022 season. Heyward reworked his swing, but his uptick in performance was also about finding a proper role at this stage of his career.
“Well last year I wasn’t sure if the phone was going to ring at all,” Heyward said. “Going out and having a good season definitely helps. To have this team be the first one that reached out and to still have options, it’s hard to get a job. Especially as you get older in this game.
“To be asked to come back to L.A., to be asked to be a part of what they have going on and what they want to get done, it says a lot. It’s a cool place to be back to and have a chance to run it back.”
With Heyward back with the Dodgers, he brings a huge presence in both on-field play, and his wisdom off the field.
“This is Year 15 for me, and every one is awesome,” Heyward said. “I don’t take it for granted. Glad to be here, glad to be back in L.A. and have a shot to go all the way with a new group. Roster additions are always cool.
“To see what the front office thinks they want to do and what their idea looks like of putting a championship team together. A lot of things have to line up. Much respect to the ownership, front office, everyone that’s here and the new people that chose the Dodgers. I’m looking forward to getting ready.”
Heyward is expected to play a solid role over the course of the 2024 season, as the Dodgers have stacked their outfield to matchup in any scenario.
Jason Heyward was the Dodgers’ 2023 Roy Campanella Award winner
Joining Rafael Furcal (2006), Jamey Carroll (2010) and Freddie Freeman (2022) as the only first-year Dodgers to receive the honor.
Heyward was the winner of the 18th annual Roy Campanella Award, which is given to one player from the team who best exemplifies the spirit and leadership of the late Hall of Fame catcher.
“Growing up in Georgia, understanding that there were going to be some things that were going to be different and unique about that situation,” Heyward said on Jackie Robinson Day at Dodger Stadium this past year. “I’m fortunate enough to have support from teammates, family, all those things. Those different people from different walks of life, different nationalities, ethnicities, led me here today to address a group where everyone is different.”
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