Jason Heyward has yet to live up to the lofty expectations bestowed upon him as a rookie in 2010, but the Atlanta Braves ensured that he will continue to develop in their organization by signing the young outfielder to a two-year contract in an effort to avoid arbitration, according to SportsCenter on Twitter:
Braves, OF Jason Heyward have agreed to terms on a 2-year contract, thus avoiding salary arbitration. » pic.twitter.com/veE32m6L4E— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 4, 2014
Although financial terms have yet to be officially released, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com is reporting that Heyward will receive $6.65 million per season:
Jason Heyward gets $13.3M for 2 yrs #braves— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) February 4, 2014
Mark Bowman, who is a Braves beat writer for MLB.com, shares a few additional contract details:
Heyward's 2-year deal is worth a guaranteed $13.3 million. It includes award bonuses and performance bonuses that could raise his '15 salary— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) February 4, 2014
Heyward is coming off a difficult 2013 campaign in which he missed 58 games due to injury. He hit just .254 with 14 home runs and 38 RBI, both of which were career lows.
He was unable to build upon his career-best season in 2012 in which he hit .269 with 27 homers and 82 RBI. Heyward also swiped 21 bags and captured his first Gold Glove Award, which demonstrated his versatility as a five-tool player.
Heyward is just 24 years of age, so the possibility remains that he has yet to reach his full potential through four MLB seasons. The Braves are banking on that, and general manager Frank Wren believes that securing Heyward for the next two years is a key maneuver, according to MLB.com.
"Jason is an important part of our organization and we're glad that we were able to agree on a multi-year contract," Wren said.
Heyward also spoke about the deal (via Kevin McAlpin of 680 The Fan):
Heyward: "I'm just excited for the fact that I dont have to worry about the process any longer, the 'what ifs' and the back & forth" #Braves— Kevin McAlpin (@KevinMcAlpin) February 4, 2014
Going to arbitration wouldn't have been ideal for either side considering the fact that Heyward has been injured and unable to progress as quickly as anticipated. Jesse Spector of Sporting News labeled the would-be hearing as "dumb":
Jason Heyward gets a two-year deal from the Braves, avoiding one of the dumbest arbitration hearings of all time.— Jesse Spector (@jessespector) February 4, 2014
Despite the fact that the Braves won the NL East and had the second-best record in the National League last season, much of the talk heading into 2014 is focused on the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals.
Who benefits most from this deal?
The Braves have become somewhat of an afterthought; however, they boast one of the league's best pitching rotations, and their lineup has the potential to get much better.
A lot of that hinges on Heyward, who is in need of a breakout season to silence his critics.
The Braves are banking on Heyward coming through, but they have yet to make a long-term financial commitment. Heyward can get the ball rolling in that regard by blossoming in 2014, though.
Few players in Major League Baseball possess physical tools comparable to Heyward's, and it will be interesting to see if they allow him to reach the next level. If Heyward doesn't improve markedly, then the Braves will have a very difficult decision on their hands after the 2015 season.
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