Andrew Heaney became the first notable free agent to sign a contract as he was one of the most popular names on the market.
More than 10 teams reportedly showed interest in the veteran southpaw before he inked a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Despite posting an ERA of nearly six last season, the Dodgers, and every other interested team, believes Heaney has a chance to become a breakout star, similar to what American League Cy Young Award finalist Robbie Ray did this past season for the Toronto Blue Jays.
“I think it is realistic,” Heaney said of the possibility that he follows the path to stardom set by Ray. “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 owns a career 4.72 ERA and 4.45 FIP across 634.1 Major League innings, but he has always posted good strikeout numbers and limited walks well. L.A. is betting on their belief they will be able to fix him with some changes and help him tap into his full potential.
“I am very comfortable with an organization like the Dodgers seeing that and being able to communicate with me how they see me making those changes,” Heaney explained. “It’s super cliche, but all I can do is really start working this offseason to get onboarded and go into Spring Training as ready as possible to make one pitch at a time and win games.”
Before Ray signed with the Blue Jays, he had a career 4.24 ERA and 4.09 FIP in 836.1 innings while striking out 11.15 hitters per nine.
This past season, Ray posted a 2.84 ERA and 3.69 FIP in 193.1 innings while setting himself up for a significant contract this offseason.
“I don’t know Robbie Ray, but if you asked him, I’m sure he didn’t come into this last season necessarily expecting to win a Cy Young,” Heaney said. “But I think he was trying to go out there and implement a better process and game plan. As it grows, you gain confidence, start pitching better and things just start falling into place.
“For me, I’m really focused on the task at hand in the near future. Just being ready to come into Spring Training and try to win one pitch, one game at a time.”
Dodgers interested in Matz
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman acknowledged addressing the starting rotation during the offseason is a focal point, and with Heaney already signed, L.A. is showing interest in another free agent left-hander.
The Dodgers are among the teams who have checked in on Stephen Matz, according to Tim Healey of Newsday Sports.
The 30-year-old is coming off another quality season in which he went 14-7 with a 3.82 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in 29 starts for the Toronto Blue Jays, but it is more likely just due diligence from the front office as they negotiate with Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw.
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