On Opening Day for the Atlanta Braves in 2010, the excitement was palpable. It was my first Atlanta Braves game and one with a level of electricity you would rarely feel again until the 2021 postseason. It was the debut of prized prospect Jason Heyward, Atlanta was playing a Chicago Cubs team that was starting Carlos Zambrano in a fun opening series.
Heyward's first at-bat of his career drove expectations through the roof when he stepped to the plate after taking two pitches and belted a go-ahead three-run homer way out in left field. The moment set unfair expectations for a player who never lived up to his electric debut.
Despite this, Jason Heyward had his best seasons with the Atlanta Braves and was a key contributor in the final seasons of the old regime.
Jason Heyward spent 2010-2014 with the Braves before spending a single year with the St. Louis Cardinals and spending 2016-2022 with the Cubs. Despite being a part of the World Series team, Heyward never delivered on his big contract in Chicago.
After sitting in free agency for an extended time, Heyward was given a chance by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a rotational player this past season. He responded by hitting .269, his highest mark since 2018, and adding in 15 homers and 56 runs scored.
While Heyward isn't a starting option at this point in his career, he is a great bench or platoon option. Atlanta clearly has a need to add depth in the outfield and could look to sign a player like Jorge Soler and bring in a depth option behind him.
Heyward is not only a fun nostalgic option, but a legitimate fit for a team that will be searching for the same cheap bench production that drove them in the 2021 season. Heyward isn't the player many Braves fans believed him to be after that 2010 Opening Day.
However, Heyward has had an impressive career one that had many of its best moments in Atlanta. Giving Heyward the chance to return to contribute to this next generation of Braves as they look to make a 2024 World Series push makes sense for both sides.
There is a clear need for a left-handed bench option for Atlanta, and Heyward's ties to Georgia that could make this fit a reality in the offseason.