Dodgers sign OF Jason Heyward to a minor league contract

Jason Heyward, the former All-Star and five-time Gold Glove Award winner who has struggled offensively for most of the last six years, has signed a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team announced Thursday. The agreement includes an invitation to spring training.

Heyward, still only 33, was a dynamic defender, a solid baserunner and a dangerous -- albeit inconsistent -- power hitter in his first six seasons, batting .268/.353/.431 with 276 extra-base hits with the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals. The Chicago Cubs, elevating into a legitimate contender, signed him to an eight-year, $184 million contract in December 2015 but watched him produce an adjusted OPS that was 14% below the league average from 2016 to 2022.

In Chicago, Heyward was considered a willing mentor and a great teammate -- he'll always be known for his speech during the rain delay in the late stages of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series -- but was no longer deemed worthy of a roster spot. In his final season, he hit only .204/.278/.277, played in 48 games and managed one home run.

The Dodgers, however, have a history of tapping into upside and are littered with holes throughout their roster, most notably in the left side of their infield and in center field.

The Dodgers previously non-tendered Cody Bellinger, then watched him sign a one-year, $17.5 million contract with the Cubs.

If Heyward, a 6-foot-5, 240-pound left-handed hitter, can somehow be productive, he would provide some depth alongside the right-handed-hitting Chris Taylor and Trayce Thompson.