Heyward versus Stanton signings in review
College Contributor Network
One of the hottest offseasons in recent history in the MLB has had hundreds of millions of dollars passed through domestic and international hands alike, fans switched from believers to pessimists and the ringer on Ken Rosenthal's phone busted.
Perhaps the biggest front-office play besides the moves for Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzija, or almost all of the Padres' new roster has been the Marlins reeling in the big one -- Giancarlo Stanton to a 13-year, $325 million deal that almost takes up half of Miami's payroll. Stanton was no joke in 2014 with 37 home runs, most in the National League, and 105 RBI's in 145 games. The bombs weren't cheapies either; the average home run distance was 415.3 feet. From 2011 to 2014, Stanton had the third-most home runs in the entire league. The future is sunny and potent in Miami.
But one National League counterpart has stayed under the radar with their necessary offseason moves –- the St. Louis Cardinals. The sudden and tragic death of the talented outfielder Oscar Taveras pushed St. Louis into an unfortunately difficult corner going into the winter months. Besides relief pitching, the Cardinals looked to bolster their depth in the outfield along with the likes of Matt Holliday, Randal Grichuk, Jon Jay, Peter Bourjos, and minor-league stud Stephen Piscotty.
St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak crossed both of those position needs off of his shopping list with the Nov. 17 trade with the Atlanta Braves that sent right fielder Jason Heyward and relief pitcher Jordan Walden to the Cardinals for the young sensational pitcher Shelby Miller. Jason Heyward fills the black-hole-sized gap in right field somewhat well after having an unexceptional start to his career with the Braves.
Heyward was one of the most-magnified prospects to ever debut for a major league team at the age of 20. He made the All-Star team that season and Hank Aaron proposed that he would be the future of baseball. Heyward has not done much to live up to that hype with a batting average of .262, 84 homers and just short of 300 RBI's in his five years, although he had been an integral piece of the Atlanta clubhouse. However, and this is a big however, Heyward maybe a better offseason signing than Giancarlo Stanton down in South Beach.
It makes the comparison easier when both players are the same age, and Stanton and Heyward are both 25. Stanton has an inch on Heyward at 6-foot-6, but Heyward has the five-pound advantage at 245 pounds. Heyward has all the talent in the world, but has fallen short of the incredible benchmarks while Stanton has been exactly what everyone thought he would be with his outrageous power.
Where Heyward has the advantage is in his complete repertoire. While Stanton clearly owns the hitting side of things, with more homers, RBI's, and a higher average, Heyward is a guy that the Cardinals see boosting their team from outside the batters box. Given that he has generally failed living up to his initial expectations offense-wise, St. Louis will celebrate any categorical improvements Heyward has in 2015. Heyward has stolen twice as many bases as Stanton, scored more runs, and has two Gold Gloves to Stanton's zip.
What St. Louis GM John Mozeliak has bet this trade on is that Heyward will do many things well for longer. Right now it seems like Stanton is hitting with a stick of lightning, but it's usually the offense of a player that can change quickly. It is also true that without the Marlins throwing that amount of cash at Stanton, then another team might have done the same (cough, cough Yankees). Almost everyone in baseball will stare and judge Stanton this year, but they should be encouraged to take a look at how one of his counterparts does too.
Andrew Morris is a sophomore at Syracuse University. People refer to him in the third person and he has an everlasting love for Orange, Major League Baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland A's, Golden State Warriors, and Indianapolis Colts. Follow him on Twitter: @Andrewmo123