Outfielder Jason Hayward (34), who was released from the Chicago Cubs, is having a revival season with the LA Dodgers. The Cubs are paying $21.28 million (about 28.45 billion won), which is most of Hayward’s salary this year, but the Dodgers, who are paying the minimum salary of $720,000 (about 960 million won), are laughing.
Hayward started as the 5th hitter and right fielder in the 2023 major league away game against the Washington Nationals held at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. on the 11th (Korean time), and led the Dodgers to a 7-3 victory with 2 hits and 2 RBIs in 3 at-bats. The Dodgers, who won the series 2 wins and 1 loss against Washington, are in first place in the National League West Division with 87 wins and 55 losses (a winning percentage of .613).안전놀이터
Hayward’s bat exploded from the first at-bat in the first inning. From his first at-bat with 2 outs and runners on 2nd and 3rd base, he hit Washington right-handed starting pitcher Trevor Williams’ second pitch outside changeup with a compact swing, creating a timely hit for 2 RBI that fell in front of center field. It was the first RBI and final hit of this day’s game.
Even with no outs on first base in the 5th inning, Williams’ 4th pitch changeup was decorated with a hit to right, giving him a chance to hit 1st and 2nd base. In the continued attack, the Dodgers loaded the bases with James Outman’s walk and then scored two more runs with a timely hit from Miguel Rojas and a sacrifice fly from Austin Barnes.
As of today, Hayward is active in 108 games this season with a batting average of .277 1/27 (75 hits in 277 at-bats), 14 home runs, 38 RBIs, an on-base percentage of .351, a slugging percentage of .484, and an OPS of .835. After his debut, he bounced back in his mid-30s by posting his personal best slugging percentage and third-highest OPS.
The second half of the season is especially hot. In 38 games, he is hitting hard with a batting average of .300 (30-for-100), 6 home runs, 16 RBI, and an OPS of .878. He has been used strictly as a platoon player, maximizing his strengths against right-handed pitching. He is contributing to the Dodgers’ run to first place in the world with alto-like performances in both offense and defense, including wide outfield defense.
Hayward, an outfielder who debuted with the Atlanta Braves in 2010 and boasts five Gold Glove awards, signed an 8-year, $118.4 million free agent contract with the Cubs in December 2015, the club’s highest-ever free agent contract. He was a member of the Cubs’ World Series winning team in 2016 and helped break the curse of the goat, but his performance continued to decline as the contract period passed.
Last year, he was limited to 48 games due to a knee injury, and had the worst year of his career with a batting average of .204 (28 hits in 137 at-bats), 1 home run, 10 RBI, and an OPS of .556. The Cubs couldn’t stand it any longer and pulled out their swords. He was fully released on the condition that he preserve his remaining salary of $22 million until this year. He decided to give opportunities to young players and gave up any concerns about remaining salary.
The Dodgers quickly picked up Hayward, who was early judged to be out of action from the Cubs. As soon as the news of his release became known last winter, the Dodgers contacted Hayward for three consecutive days and signed him to a minor league contract. With a minimum salary of $720,000, the remaining $21.28 million is paid by the Cubs, the home team. For the Dodgers, it was almost free, so there was no burden.
The possibility of a rebound was dim due to the continuous decline in recent years, but the Dodgers showed off their ability by bringing Hayward back to life. I worked hard to adjust my swing mechanism at Dodger Stadium throughout the winter. A clue to his revival was found by changing the position of his hands when striking. Although he performed poorly during the exhibition game, he was included in the opening roster, and has not left the team even once and is performing at peak levels. The Dodgers’ recruitment of Hayward is becoming a huge success as he shows veteran leadership leading young players.