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Cubs' Theo Epstein: Jason Heyward Enhances Our Identity

(CBS) The Cubs on Tuesday afternoon introduced newly signed outfielder Jason Heyward, with president of baseball operations Theo Epstein lauding the addition as the "rare opportunity through free agency to further our identity, to enhance our core, to actually get younger through free agency."

"It's rare, I think, in free agency that you can add a player who so well fits the identity of the organization," Epstein said. "We're fortunate, I think, to have a developing identity that's based around young players who are terrific talents on the field who also demonstrate tremendous character off the field."

Heyward agreed to an eight-year, $184-million deal last Friday that reportedly includes two opt-out clauses -- one after three years and one after the fourth year.

Heyward confirmed he didn't take the highest offer available to him. The Nationals had an offer in the range of $200 million, according to reports. After he played one season in St. Louis, the Cardinals were also keenly interested in Heyward, who hit the open market at 26, the rare player to do so in his prime.

"That brought a lot of competitive, winning teams my way," Heyward said at a press conference at Spiaggia Restaurant in downtown Chicago.

"I don't want to take the highest dollar amount when my gut is telling me to go somewhere else."

Heyward was the prized free-agent position player of this offseason. He had 13 homers and 60 RBIs while hitting .293 with a .797 OPS in 154 games for the Cardinals last season. He also stole 23 bases. He's praised as a five-tool player, though he hasn't reached his power potential yet. The Cubs believe he will do so in time.

Heyward could be used in center field or right field for the Cubs, depending how they navigate the remainder of the offseason.

"That's going to come down to what we see out of ourselves when the group is set in spring training," Heyward said.

"I'm perfectly fine with playing center field or right field."

Heyward's a three-time Gold Glover, and Epstein spoke volumes about his all-around game.

"An impact defender," Epstein said. "He gets great reads on the ball. Obviously, probably the best right fielder in the game that we feel can really play a solid-to-excellent center field as well. He can throw. One of the best baserunners in the league, someone who plays our kind of baseball in the box, grinding out at-bats, getting on base at an outstanding clip with power potential as well. And someone who has a knack for getting big hits. He just does all the little things that go into winning baseball games. He impacts the game in lots of obvious ways and lots of subtle ways as well."

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