The Los Angeles Dodgers opened their offseason by signing Andrew Heaney to a one-year contract as part of a focus on filling out the starting rotation.
Heaney sported a 5.83 ERA in just shy of 130 innings this year, and his career ERA of 4.72 is nothing to brag about, but the Dodgers see something in him and believe they can help the left-hander unlock the potential he showed as a former top prospect.
Despite his struggles, more than 10 teams reportedly showed interest in Heaney because of belief in his upside. With so many teams interested, something that was important to the southpaw was joining an organization that laid out a clear plan for him and what he can improve on.
“I think that was a real part for me,” Heaney said. “I think having a team that has a very clear idea of who I am, what I can do, how I can achieve that, and being able to work in tandem and have a really good partnership was something that was really important to me.
“I know that I’m much better than my numbers say I was last year. I think it was really exciting and eye-opening to see not just the Dodgers, but how many other teams felt the same way. At the same time, I wanted to have a really good partnership with whatever team I signed with was a team that believed what I can be and has a process in place to help me get there.”
Heaney pitched to a 5.27 ERA with the L.A. Angeles before he was traded to the New York Yankees. But a change of scenery didn’t produce positive results as Heaney sported a 7.32 ERA and FIP of nearly seven in 35.2 innings for New York.
The Yankees designated Heaney for assignment, which marked a low point, but something he is focused on learning from.
“Frankly, I got traded over and I wasn’t pitching well at the time, and I didn’t turn it around,” Heaney acknowledged. “So that’s something I wish maybe hadn’t gone the way that it did, but I think with any failure in life, there’s always opportunities to learn and grow from it. Definitely going to take that opportunity.
“I think on the Yankees’ side of things, having an entire offseason and Spring Training with an organization like that probably would’ve helped. Rather than trying to make some of those adjustments literally on the fly after just getting traded over. So I think there’s some things that probably I left on the table there.
“Like I said, that’s one of the reasons I felt like getting here with the Dodgers and getting going quickly, I think is the best way to really catch up to speed and make some changes that I know are going to stick and last throughout the year.”
Heaney believes bounce-back similar to Robbie Ray is ‘realistic’
Several executives believe Heaney is poised for a bounce-back season next year and think he could follow the same path to stardom as 2021 American League Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray.
“I think it is realistic,” Heaney said of the possibility. “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.”
Heaney’s underlying metrics likely caught the eye of the Dodgers’ front office and other interested teams. He finished in the 91st percentile in chase rate, and his four-seam fastball spin rate was in the 90th percentile.
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