Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
When the Los Angeles Dodgers non-tendered Cody Bellinger to make him a free agent, it created a need in center field.
The club was linked to several high-profile players, including Aaron Judge and Kevin Kiermaier, but both ended up elsewhere. L.A. nevertheless made an under-the-radar addition by signing Jason Heyward to a Minor League contract with an invitation to big league camp during 2023 Spring Training.
Heyward was released by the Chicago Cubs last month after a seven-year tenure that was marred by inconsistency at the plate. After a successful 2020 campaign, the 33-year-old hit just .211/.280/.326 with 20 doubles, three triples, nine home runs and 40 RBI in 152 games over the past two years.
As he looks to revitalize his career, Heyward has already begun working out with Dodgers hitting coaches Robert Van Scoyoc and Aaron Bates, per Jack Harris of the L.A. Times:
Their work together began this past week, as Heyward flew out to Los Angeles to work out at Dodger Stadium alongside the club’s hitting coaches, Robert Van Scoyoc and Aaron Bates, and strength staff. “It almost feels like a walk-through before spring training,” Heyward said. “I’m gonna spend more time with them the rest of the offseason.”
Van Scoyoc has been credited for helping turn around several players’ careers, including J.D. Martinez, who reportedly agreed to terms with the Dodgers earlier this month. Chris Taylor and Justin Turner also have praised Van Scoyoc in the past for helping them with their swing.
There are reasons to believe Heyward could experience a bounce back in L.A. In addition to being motivated, he ranked in the 95th percentile in max exit velocity as recently as the 2021 season, while posting above-average marks in both hard-hit rate and strikeout percentage.
Freddie Freeman excited by Jason Heyward signing with Dodgers
Heyward signing with the Dodgers reunited him with former Atlanta Braves teammate Freddie Freeman. Both players were selected by the organization in the 2007 MLB Draft and rose through the farm system together.
When news of his signing became official, Freeman shared a photo of the two on his Instagram story to express his excitement.
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