By Chris Emma–
CHICAGO (CBS) — Jason Heyward had incredible offers on the table from terrific teams. He had the chance to take $200 million and contend for the playoffs with some outstanding organizations.READ MORE: Investigators Raid Three Locations Of Parlor Pizza Restaurant
Yet for all those lucrative offers, Heyward wanted more than that. It’s why the outfielder picked the Chicago Cubs in December, signing an eight-year, $184-million deal.
“Money is a good thing,” Heyward said. “Money is stability. Money takes care of your family, takes care of sickness and hunger, but it’s not always going to make you happy. I wanted to be able to enjoy myself, look around and say I made the right decision with whatever I did with my life and have no regrets.”
So, Heyward chose the Cubs over the Cardinals, Nationals and Angels, each of whom put more money than the Cubs on the table. He picked a team that won 97 games in 2015 and reached the NLCS, one with a young core that’s not going anywhere.
What was so surprising at the time is really all too simple — Heyward couldn’t pass up the chance to join the Cubs’ continued rise and fight for the club’s first World Series since 1908. He wanted to join this movement.
At the Cubs Convention this weekend, a fan who greeted Heyward at the microphone opened with an apology for heckling him from the Wrigley Field bleachers last season. At that time, the thought of Heyward in Chicago seemed crazy.
“He’s a top-five player in baseball,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Heyward.
The Cubs carry appeal for newcomers — perhaps more than any other team in baseball. General manager Jed Hoyer joked about the oddness of how the Cubs’ 108 years of losing now serves as a draw to come win. Players want to be a part of something special.
Two years ago, second baseman/utilityman Ben Zobrist played at Wrigley Field for the first time. An Illinois native, Zobrist became enamored with baseball on Chicago’s north side. That day was on his mind when chose to sign with the Cubs in December as well.READ MORE: Police Arrive To Find Man Shot In Bedford Park
“This is the way baseball ought to be,” Zobrist recalled saying to himself. “This is unbelievable. And then I played in the stadium and it was awesome. I totally, at that point, thought going to the Cubs would be unbelievable.”
Right-hander Adam Warren didn’t get his pick of the Cubs. The Cubs picked him.
On the December day Warren was traded from the Yankees, his phone was off. He was shutting everything down for a vacation to St. Lucia and wanted no part of his phone. Little did he know, it was ringing off the hook. Warren and his wife entered a restaurant and saw on TV that the Yankees had made a trade. He found a phone and learned of the news.
Warren and his wife had played the “what-if” game and considered Chicago as a great destination for a potential trade. He was thrilled to join the team filled with so much potential.
“It’s an exciting time to be a Cub,” Warren said. “You can always picture yourself winning that elusive championship for the Cubs and hoisting that trophy. It’s a fun time.”
Additions like Heyward, Zobrist and Warren, plus John Lackey, Rex Brothers and more, have made a a talented team on the rise even stronger — a legitimate World Series favorite.
Joining the Cubs is something that was special for the newcomers, whether it’s a marquee name like Heyward or a fifth starter contender like Warren. If the Cubs win a World Series, every name will be remembered as something remarkable for Chicago and a fan base long awaiting this chance.
“I couldn’t be happier to be here,” Zobrist said. “I’m so excited to try and win a championship here.”MORE NEWS: 'John Doe' Who Accused Former Blackhawks Video Coach Brad Aldrich Of Sexual Abuse Identifies Himself As Kyle Beach