The Los Angeles Dodgers entered free agency with multiple vacancies to fill in their starting rotation. While re-signing one or both of Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw remains possible, the club is casting a wide net in their search for reinforcements this offseason.
The Dodgers’ first move was signing Andrew Heaney to a one-year contract. The left-hander is coming off a forgettable season in which we went a combined 8-9 with a 5.83 ERA, 4.85 FIP and 1.32 WHIP across 30 games (23 starts) for the L.A. Angels and New York Yankees.
Despite his struggles, Heaney was one of the more popular free agents due to his underlying peripherals and a belief that he could follow the same path to stardom as Robbie Ray with a few tweaks.
The 30-year-old will earn a reported base salary of $8.5 million next year and has the potential to make even more if he meets certain incentives for innings pitched.
An American League general manager was shocked at the contract Heaney received from the Dodgers, via Robert Murray of FanSided:
One American League GM was “very surprised” that the Dodgers signed Andrew Heaney for $8.5 million. “We liked him — he has a lot of traits that you like — but not at that price,” he said.
While Heaney’s contract may look excessive at the onset, the starting pitching market has been very competitive in the early stages of free agency.
Justin Verlander is returning to the Houston Astros on a one-year, $25 million contract that includes an option for 2023 that could bring its total value to $50 million. Noah Syndergaard received a one-year, $21 million deal from the L.A. Angels.
With the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) set to expire in two weeks, it wouldn’t be surprising if additional starting pitchers look to sign a new contract before a potential lockout goes into effect.
Heaney thinks bounce-back season with Dodgers is ‘realistic’
While Heaney’s overall numbers left a lot to be desired this past season, there was still plenty to be encouraged about. For one, he struck out 10.4 batters per nine innings and finished in the 91st percentile in chase rate.
Heaney’s four-seam fastball spin rate also was in the 90th percentile, which put him in the same territory as Lucas Giolito and Josh Hader. “I think it is realistic,” Heaney said of the sentiment that he is poised for a bounce-back season next year.
“I’m not sitting here predicting I’m going to go win the Cy Young next year, but I do think teams look at not only pitcher’s stuff but also underlying metrics.
“I think that’s a lot of teams — especially in a situation for a guy like me where it is a bounce-back season. I’m fully admitting the year I had is not what I wanted to have, but I do think there were some things I could do a lot better and probably some really small things that are going to make big differences.”
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