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Cubs release Jason Heyward with one year left on $184 million deal

Jason Heyward with the Cubs.
The Cubs cut bait with Jason Heyward on Monday. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

The Chicago Cubs are cutting bait with outfielder Jason Heyward one year early. The team granted Heyward his release Monday, making the 33-year-old a free agent.

The Cubs are still on the hook for Heyward's $22 million salary in 2023.

The move ends Heyward's spotty tenure with the club. Heyward joined the team prior to the 2016 MLB season on an eight-year, $184 million deal. He showed immense promise during his first couple seasons in the majors, and was coming off a .293/.359/.439 slash line in his final season before hitting the market. He was just 26 when he became a free agent, further driving up his price.

Many teams liked Heyward's ability and elite defense, but the Cubs came out on top for his services. With Chicago, Heyward was expected to be the missing piece. The Cubs reached the postseason in 2015, but fell to the New York Mets in the NLCS. Heyward was supposed to be the player who lifted the team to a World Series championship.

Jason Heyward struggled at the plate with Cubs

Heyward struggled in his first season with the Cubs, hitting .230/.306/.325 over 142 games. Those struggles carried over to the playoffs, where Heyward hit just .104 in 16 games. The Cubs still won the World Series, breaking a 108-year drought. Heyward was credited for giving the team an important pep talk in Game 7.

Heyward improved slightly in his second season with the Cubs, but failed to reach his previous highs over the duration of his $184 million contract. He gave the Cubs elite defense in right field for seven seasons, but his performance at the plate was spotty. Heyward hit just .204 in his final season with the team. He was limited to 48 games due to a knee injury.

Despite those struggles, Heyward could latch on with another team in 2023. He's a capable defender who hits from the left side. Heyward won't make anything near the $22 million salary the Cubs will pay him in 2023, making him a solid buy-low reserve on most teams.