Heyward the next great free agent

Stars are aligning for Braves outfielder to be in major demand in two years

Updated: March 1, 2014, 1:21 PM ET
By Mike Petriello | ESPN Insider

Jason HeywardElsa/Getty ImagesJason Heyward is a good bet to snag a $200 million contract two years from now.

We've been spoiled by Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Mike Trout. To have a single top prospect reach the big leagues and prove himself to be a star before he's of legal drinking age is rare, and the few who have been able to do it in the past 25 years have often proved to be among the all-time greats -- names such as Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez among them.

To have three of them doing it simultaneously, well, that's nearly unheard of. We are almost unquestionably living in something of a golden age of elite young offensive talent.

The flip side of that is that they take up so much of the air in the room that it's easy to forget those who came before them, players who have been very good but not quite on that historic level. It means the hot young names of just a few years ago now seem like old news, even if "old" is absolutely not the correct way to refer to them.

It means we've forgotten about Jason Heyward to some extent, because he was the Trout of just a few years ago, when he made it to the big leagues at age 20 in 2010. But, although Heyward might be somewhat under the radar right now, the confluence of forces at play involving the economics of baseball, his own age and the actions taken by his team mean he's set up to be in high demand very soon.