As baseball's winter meetings slow to a halt, the chase for Jason Heyward is just beginning.
Reports out of Nashville on Thursday indicate the sweepstakes for Heyward have finally begun to intensify, with Jon Morosi of FOX Sports identifying the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs, and Los Angeles Angels as finalists to sign the 26-year-old outfielder.
Heyward, widely considered the top position player available this offseason, is rumored to be seeking a lucrative long-term deal in excess of $200 million. ESPN's Jayson Stark hears that Heyward is looking for an eight- or nine-year contract that will pay him around $24 million per season.
Speaking to reporters in Nashville on Wednesday, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak reiterated that his club's top priority is to bring back Heyward.
"I feel like, from a confidence standpoint, I feel like I know where this may be heading," Mozeliak said of the Heyward negotiations, according to MLB.com. "But I don't feel like I have direct feedback yet to tell you X or Y. So we'll just keep grinding away."
Heyward hit .293/.359/.439 with 13 homers and 23 stolen bases in 2015 after being acquired in a trade with Atlanta last winter. Lauded for his exceptional defensive work, Heyward topped all right fielders last season with 22 defensive runs saved en route to his second consecutive Gold Glove award.
Despite his lack of power - Heyward's only 20-homer season came back in 2012 - the talented outfielder is one of just eight players over the last six seasons to compile 80 homers, 80 steals, and an OBP above .350.