Jason Heyward Has Done It All In 15-Year Career | Now He’s Shohei Ohtani’s “Unofficial Spokesperson”

Jason Heyward Has Done It All In 15-Year Career | Now He’s Shohei Ohtani’s “Unofficial Spokesperson”

As the old saying goes, “hard work pays off,” and that is the case with outfielder Jason Heyward of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers basically saved Heyward from retiring prior to last season. The 34-year-old outfielder decided to take one more crack at it and put together a highly productive season in his backup role. 

 

Jason Heyward Signs One-Year/$9M Deal With Dodgers

 

With much less hesitance, Heyward ran it back with the LA Dodgers, signing a deal this offseason worth one year, $9 million. 

 

Heyward recently expressed his gratitude toward the organization for the opportunity: “It’s amazing to have people believe in you, 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.”

 

In 98 starts, while appearing in 124 games for the Dodgers last season where he faced all right-handed pitchers, the former Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals star batted .269/.340/.473 with 23 doubles, 15 home runs, 40 RBI, 56 runs scored.

 

There isn’t a safer place in the world to hit than hidden within this current star-studded Dodgers lineup. In fact, Heyward’s time with the Dodgers – from fine-tuning his swing to being able to be just one of the guys – has prolonged his career. 

 

Heyward is someone who overcame adversity as he was cut by the Chicago Cubs in 2022. Having a strong 2023 was imperative for Heyward to continue prolonging his professional career in the majors.

 

Jason Heyward Is Shohei Ohtani’s “Unofficial Spokesperson”

 

Now entering his 15th MLB season, Heyward has a very specific role on this LA Dodgers team, beyond his contributions on the field and his personal goal to “work hard, have fun and compete.”

 

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has nominated Jason Heyward to assume the role of the team’s “unofficial spokesperson” for the Japanese media. Heyward will handle all things ” Shohei Ohtani” as the superstar’s arrival in Los Angeles will draw hundreds, maybe even thousands, of international media to American ballparks.

In a recent interview with SportsNet LA, Roberts addressed the challenge of handling the media onslaught accompanying Ohtani’s presence on the team. Referencing his own experience playing alongside Barry Bonds, Roberts acknowledged the importance of having a seasoned player who can field media inquiries, allowing others to focus on the game.

He emphasized that the unique situation with Ohtani and the curiosity surrounding other new players such as Yoshinobu Yamamoto, necessitates a respected lifer such as Heyward to handle media interaction.

“I played with Barry Bonds […] and I was that player, a teammate that answered a lot of questions because other teammates didn’t care to.” – Dave Roberts

 

Barry Bonds sits the bench next to Dave Roberts as the Colorado Rockies as the Rockies defeated the Giants 7-4 at Coors Field September 3, 2007, in Denver

 

 

LA Dodgers Are A Rock Star Team With Mucho Talent 

 

Heyward will be rejoining perhaps the most talented and most dynamic team in all of baseball this coming season as they signed two-time AL MVP Shohei Ohtani to a historic 10-year, $700 million contract as well as signing rookie Japanese star pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto to the largest contract by a pitcher in league history (12 years, $325 million.)

 

Having new additions like those players bolsters a roster that was already supreme beforehand. We haven’t even gotten to three-time Silver Slugger first baseman Freddie Freeman (whom Heyward is good friends with) and outfielder Mookie Betts, a six-time Golden Glove recipient and a former AL MVP himself.

 

 

The ‘J-Hey Kid’, as he was called back in his early days as a young Atlanta Braves phenom, can slide in at any outfield position and hold down the forte if any of the starters get injured. Heyward is also someone who can produce RBI in the box and help manufacture runs.

 

He’s a veteran presence with championship pedigree who will be a solid influence on young and incoming players.


Heyward is also someone who gives back to the community as he has the Jason Heyward Baseball Academy in Chicago, which he recently established. 

 

 

The club will provide hands-on instruction for young boys and girls ages 6-14 who love baseball as a nonprofit organization that will be hosted in the North Austin Center.

 

His academy not only offers baseball but also will have a FIFA regulation-sized indoor soccer turf field, classrooms to have proactive learning sessions, indoor courts, a workout facility, and more.

 

The Dodgers are the betting favorites to win the 2024 World Series at +350 according to Fox Sports and Heyward is elated to be along for the ride. 

One Season After Contemplating Retirement, A Rebirthed Jason Heyward Runs It Back With LA Dodgers

One Season After Contemplating Retirement, A Rebirthed Jason Heyward Runs It Back With LA Dodgers

Long-time right fielder Jason Heyward is back for another one.

 

The 14-year veteran has reportedly re-signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers on a one-year $9 million deal. Heyward will enter the season at 34 years old and will have the chance to add to his stellar career.

 

J-Hey Is The Consummate Pro 

 

Prior to his ongoing stint in Los Angeles, Heyward spent seven seasons with the Braves, Cardinals and Cubs. With the Cubs, Heyward secured an eight-year $184 million deal that, despite winning the World Series, he was unable to sustain. In the seven seasons prior to joining the Dodgers, Heyward struggled and was only able to notch a .245 batting average with just 62 home runs.

Early in his career, with the Braves and then the Cardinals, Heyward was a budding star, batting nearly .300 in his single season in St. Louis, and winning Wilson Defensive Player of the Year with Atlanta. He was even anointed as baseball’s next big star by the legendary Hank Aaron.

In his last two seasons with Chicago, Heyward plummeted, batted .214 and .204, respectively — leading the World Series hero to be released a season early with $22 million remaining on the books.

 

Heyward Makes His Comeback 

After contemplating retirement, he signed with the LA Dodgers last season. At that point, he was only able to notch a minor-league deal, having to work his way up if he wanted to get back to the majors. After fixing his swing prior to 2023 Spring Training, Heyward did enough to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster and it paid dividends.

 

In a revived 2023 season, J-Hey put up a five-year high in batting average with .269 as well as an .813 OPS — his highest full-season mark since 2014. These numbers allowed him to cash the aforementioned $9 million check with Dave Roberts’ perennial World Series contenders.

“It’s Been A Fun Year Of Baseball” | Outfielder Jason Heyward Has Been A Pleasant Surprise For Championship-Chasing Los Angeles Dodgers

 

With a revamped offensive approach and his past Gold Glove blessings, Heyward has the potential to continue to be a valuable veteran utility player for the Dodgers in the 2024 season.

 

“It’s Been A Fun Year Of Baseball” | Outfielder Jason Heyward Has Been A Pleasant Surprise For Championship-Chasing Los Angeles Dodgers

“It’s Been A Fun Year Of Baseball” | Outfielder Jason Heyward Has Been A Pleasant Surprise For Championship-Chasing Los Angeles Dodgers

On Sunday afternoon the Los Angeles Dodgers clinched their 10th NL West title in the last 11 seasons and superstar Markus Lynn Betts aka Mookie led the way.

The team under the watchful eye of skipper Dave Roberts came into the season with five players ranked in MLB’s Top 100.

They include the aforementioned do-it-all Betts and sweet swinging first baseman Freddie Freeman, both NL MVP candidates. Also, catcher Will Smith and ace pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Julio Urías.

 

That’s about as strong a quintet of stars as you’ll find on any team. But we all know championships are won with unsung heroes and role players, and that’s exactly what the Dodgers got when they signed longtime outfielder Jason Heyward (who everyone assumed was retiring) last December and added him to their 26-man opening day roster.

A move, that at the time didn’t gain much pub, has been a godsend for the Dodgers.

 

Jason Heyward Remains An Unsung Hero For LA Dodgers | MLBbro Posting Highest Batting Average Since 2018

 

Heyward Provides Dodgers Versatility

 

The longtime Braves and Cubs defensive wiz who looked like his career was over after his seven-year run in ChiTown has been a pleasant surprise this season for the Dodgers. The 6-foot-5 and 240-pounder has been used primarily against right-handed pitchers, and he’s flourished.

Batting a respectable .283 with 15 home runs and 40 RBI, Heyward’s unexpected emergence has allowed the aforementioned Roberts to move Betts around the field on defense. Betts has 54 games at second base, 16 at shortstop and 98 games in right field. That’s no small feat because anywhere you can use Betts and not lose a lot in his original spot is a win for the Dodgers.

 

 

During a recent series with the rival San Diego Padres, Heyward told reporters, “It’s been a fun year of baseball,” when asked about his resurgent season. 

 Heyward’s Leadership And Work Ethic Afforded Him This Opportunity

 

Being known as a hard worker and clubhouse leader opened the Dodgers GM Brandon Gomes eyes to the possibility of signing Heyward, who was released by the Cubs in August 2022. Gomes recently opened up on the partnership, and how he knew it’d work.

  

“It felt like the perfect marriage between our culture, what he could bring on the field, off the field in the clubhouse, and his ability to just get to work with our group and kind of a trust fall for what they for him,” Gomes said. “And now we’re seeing him perform at an incredibly high level.”

 

Heyward has overly exceeded expectations in this specific role the Dodgers have etched out for him this season. The adjustment in his swing, how he now attacks right-handed pitching and of course his positive influence on the clubhouse.

 

 

“The beauty of it is, it’s a collaborative effort,” Gomes said.”

 

A collaboration that he and all of Dodger Nation hopes nets them a second World Series title in four seasons, and a parade around the city this time around as COVID-19 robbed them of that joy in 2020.