Could Jason Heyward create Opening Day roster drama for Dodgers?
Right now, the Los Angeles Dodgers' Opening Day starting center fielder is ... Chris Taylor? Is that ideal? Would fans even feel comfortable with one of Trayce Thompson or James Outman there? Thompson's flaws are well-documented and Outman is still largely an unknown commodity.
What about Jason Heyward? At first, when he was signed to a minor-league contract following Cody Bellinger being non-tendered, it seemed like a worthless penny-pinching move. But now that we have Freddie Freeman talking up his former teammate? Now that Heyward's apparently "fixed" his swing?
We could be looking at legitimate disruption on the Opening Day roster, whether Heyward were to miraculously snag the starting job or earn a bench spot.
Robert Van Scoyoc, work your magic! The man responsible for reviving JD Martinez early on in his career has also been working with Heyward, and the early returns are trending in the right direction.
On Monday, Heyward homered off Tony Gonsolin, which provided visual evidence of his swing seemingly getting back on track. His teammates, as well as the beat writers, have noticed the alterations.
Could Jason Heyward be the Dodgers' Opening Day starting center fielder?
Here's a better view of that absolute tank:
Nice! Looks good. No clue if it's sustainable. And judging by Heyward's last two seasons with the Cubs (.209 AVG, .279 OBP, 40 runs scored, 9 HR and 40 RBI in 152 games), it's hard to be overly encouraged by one swing.
It's worth keeping in the back of your mind, though -- especially after Freeman, who played with Heyward for five seasons (2010-2014), had some positive things to say about the 33-year-old. And Freeman doesn't just throw comments out there to appease anybody.
Heyward's makeup, at his best or at least somewhere near it, is exactly what the Dodgers need. He's a Gold Glover in center field. His athleticism was once regarded as the best in the game from a defensive perspective. He's a lefty bat that has the capability to hit for average and power (though he's only put it all together two times in full seasons). Though they won't be getting the full package, maybe a semblance of what he was capable of could at least be a valuable bench piece.
But we won't start projecting any sort of roster crunch until that comes even close to a remote possibility.