The Los Angeles Dodgers announced they have officially re-signed Jason Heyward to a one-year contract for the 2024 season worth $9 million.
It was their first notable move of the offseason and fills the Dodgers’ 40-man roster for the time being. As they continue to pursue upgrades to other areas of their roster, they’ll need to make trades or designate players for assignment to make room on the 40-man.
Heyward and the Dodgers had mutual interest in a reunion, so it’s not surprising they were able to get a deal worked out quickly. The 34-year-old also has a close friendship with Freddie Freeman and became a leader inside the Dodgers clubhouse, which earned him the 2023 Roy Campanella Award as voted by the players.
Heyward appeared in 124 games, making 98 starts — all against right-handed pitching — and hit .269/.340/.473 with 23 doubles, 15 home runs, 40 RBI, 56 runs scored, and a 121 wRC+ while putting up 2.2 WAR for a solid rebound season.
However, Heyward’s expected stats suggested he over-performed his results.
Heyward ranked below the 40th percentile in expected wOBA, batting average slugging percentage and sweet-spot %, and he ranked below the 30th percentile in average exit velocity and hard-hit rate.
From July through the end of the season, Heyward was just about league average for his side of the platoon, posting just a 105 wRC+ against right-handers while hitting .274/.327/.427, good for a .754 on-base plus slugging percentage.
What Heyward did well throughout the season was avoid strikeouts and consistently put the ball in play, which contributed to his low average exit velocity of 87.7 mph. Heyward ranked in the 74th percentile of whiff rate and the 82nd percentile of strikeout rate.
He also played elite defense, posting six outs above average, which ranked Heyward in the 91st percentile of defenders, and his arm strength of 90.7 mph ranked better than 87% of his peers.
Still, the Dodgers are betting on Heyward’s offensive profile taking a step up from last season so he can continue to be a productive offensive player on the team.
What is Jason Heyward’s role for 2024?
Heyward should continue to see significant playing time as the starting right fielder against right-handed pitching while taking a bench role when a left-hander is starting.
With Mookie Betts playing second base full time, the Dodgers should continue to be on the lookout for another outfielder, which may still be the case as general manager Brandon Gomes mentioned corner outfield as a priority this offseason.
Have you subscribed to the Dodger Blue YouTube channel? Be sure to ring the notification bell to watch player interviews, participate in shows and giveaways, and stay up to date on all Dodgers news and rumors!