Mike Matheny took exception to recent comments from Jason Heyward, who cited the Cardinals' aging core as one of the reasons he signed with the up-and-coming Chicago Cubs rather than staying in St. Louis.
Matheny, who has managed the Cardinals to three consecutive division titles and a 100-win season in 2015, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Heyward's sentiments are not "going to ring too well with our club."
Although he said that the Cardinals "are always going to be a great organization," Heyward acknowledged that it would be "difficult" to re-sign with St. Louis because the current collection of veteran stars might not be around in a few years.
"I can't say I'm in any kind of agreement with [the Cubs'] core being better than any kind of core that we have," Matheny told the Post-Dispatch. "That [Cardinals] veteran group also helps drive what the younger group turns into.
"I don't blame him. But I don't like it. I thought we created a really good atmosphere and he had to weigh what was most important to him."
Heyward, speaking Tuesday during his introductory news conference with the Cubs, specifically mentioned Cardinals stars Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright -- all of whom are in their 30s and dealt with long-term injuries in 2015.
"I've got a lot of respect for Jason as a person," Matheny said. "He's got to go make the decisions he's going to have to live with. If that [core-group comparison] is a big deal to him, he's just being honest with people.
"But I don't think we have anything to apologize for in having a group like a Holliday, a Molina, a Wainwright. Those are the kinds of guys everybody wants on a club."
Heyward, 26, signed an eight-year, $184 million deal with the Cubs this past week and declared that he turned down more lucrative contract numbers elsewhere. He joins a Cubs team that upset the Cardinals in last season's playoffs and reached the NLCS for the first time since 2003; it also features a talented core of players in their 20s, including Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant.
"I see where he's coming from," Matheny said. "I mean, look at what Chicago's done. It's very unique in this game -- to have that many impact players at that young age. And [Heyward] is a young player."
But Matheny also said that the Cardinals offered Heyward an attractive situation, including a "terrific" contract, and that he was a "major part" of the team.
"With all that being said, it comes down to what does a guy want?" Matheny said. "[Staying in St. Louis] just wasn't what he was looking for."