The biggest loss for the Dodgers in 2015 could end up being someone they barely even had. Here's a look back at the 2015 season of pitcher Andrew Heaney, who was a Dodger for a few fateful hours during the winter meetings in San Diego.
What went right
The Dodgers will likely hear about the Dee Gordon trade for years, but the true net loss of the deal will likely be Heaney. Don't get me wrong; Gordon was outstanding in 2015, taking his game to an even higher level, establishing himself as the best player in the December 2014 trade with the Marlins. Gordon was very good by any measurement, but also racked up several shiny reminders of what Dodgers fans missed — another All-Star appearance, a batting title, leading the league in hits and stolen bases, a Silver Slugger Award, and a Gold Glove Award to boot.
But at least for Gordon — plus Dan Haren, Miguel Rojas and $12.5 million — the Dodgers got quite a bit in return. Los Angeles got a utility man in Kiké Hernandez who was one of their best hitters, a catcher with versatility to also play the infield in Austin Barnes, a setup man in Chris Hatcher who was great down the stretch after his return from the disabled list, and Heaney.
But as part of simultaneous trades involving the Marlins and Angels, the Dodgers opted for the veteran middle infielder in Howie Kendrick, going for more certainty at second base. Kendrick was okay in his one season with the Dodgers, but wasn't close to Gordon offensively or defensively, and to boot that one year of Kendrick — plus the draft pick the Dodgers will gain when Kendrick eventually signs elsewhere this offseason — cost the Dodgers six or seven years of a viable starting pitcher in Heaney.
What went wrong
Heaney, rated before 2015 the No. 25 prospect in baseball by MLB.com, No. 27 by Baseball Prospectus, and No. 42 by Baseball America, started his season with Triple-A Salt Lake City before finding himself in the Angels' starting rotation in June.
In 18 starts for the Halos, Heaney was 6-4 with a 3.49 ERA, with 78 strikeouts and 28 walks in 105⅔ innings. Despite being with the Angels for just over three months, Heaney's 1.7 rWAR would have ranked third among Dodgers starting pitchers in 2015, and his 1.6 fWAR would have ranked fourth, with Brett Anderson (1.7 fWAR) slightly ahead of him, but in 31 starts.
The left-hander technically counts as an old friend because the Dodgers' deals with the Marlins and Angels last December didn't come together as a three-team trade; there were two separate deals.
Plus, Heaney got extra old friend points for taking his few reported hours as a Dodger in stride, and with good humor.
Stats: 6-4, 3.49 ERA, 3.73 FIP with Angels, 78 K, 28 BB, 105⅔ IP, 1.7 rWAR, 1.6 fWAR
Salary: $509,250, a pro-rated share of that for his time in majors with Anaheim
Game of the year
Heaney allowed just two runs on four hits in 5⅓ innings at Dodger Stadium on Aug. 1, but got no run support in what was a 3-1 victory for Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers.
Heaney has 150 days of major league service time and has one option year remaining. He will probably be a Super Two after 2017, which will give him four years of salary arbitration. But the Angels' pitcher won't be eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season.
So if you want a real reason to lament the Gordon trade, the loss of Heaney is it.