A former first round pick by Atlanta back in 2007 out of Henry County High School in McDonough, Heyward quickly rose throughout the minor leagues on his way to top prospect status prior to his MLB debut with the Braves back in 2010. Yes, you likely remember that highly anticipated debut as well, one in which he homered in his first-ever major league at-bat, sending a packed Turner Field that was chanting his name into an uproar.
Heyward was a star from day one in Atlanta as a rookie, making his first, and as of today only, All-Star appearance, slashing a combined .277/.393/.456 across 142 games, while also finishing as the runner up for the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year. The former first round pick as you likely know would then go on to spend four more seasons with the Braves through 2014, a span in which he held a combined .781 OPS, while also winning two Gold Gloves.
Heyward would however be traded to the St. Louis Cardinals shortly after the conclusion of the 2014 season in a move that would be one of the most notable trades to begin the Braves rebuild. His time in St. Louis would last only one season however, as Heyward would sign with the Chicago Cubs as a free agent in 2015 where the veteran outfielder has spent the last seven seasons.
However, after a 2022 season in which the 33-year-old slashed .204/.278/.277 across 48 games, Heyward was recently released by the Cubs, making the former first round pick a free agent.
Could the Braves potentially have interest in bringing Heyward back to where it all started?
Should the Atlanta Braves sign Jason Heyward?
When answering that question, you could make an argument that it makes sense. No, Heyward would not start for the Braves, but the veteran would likely be an intriguing outfield bench option for Atlanta should it happen.
A five-time Gold Glove winner, Heyward is still an elite defender, and could give the Braves a go-to defensive option late in games should they need it. As for the offensive side of things, yes, Heyward has struggled at the plate the last two seasons, but the veteran outfielder did have some of the best offensive seasons of his career in Atlanta, and maybe a change of scenery would flip recent trends.
Ultimately time will tell on if it actually happens, but until then, the question will be asked – should the Atlanta Braves bring back Heyward?