Although it’s been a quiet offseason thus far, the Dodgers have already been active, as they signed left-handed starter Andrew Heaney to a one-year contract.
Heaney was able to get a jump-start in the process, as he was let go by the Yankees shortly before the season ended, meaning he was able to talk with interested teams earlier than most free agents.
When speaking with reporters via Zoom on Friday, Heaney said the Dodgers really stood out and made the decision for where he wanted to play an easy one.
“Understanding the process of how they do things and how they felt like I could improve,” he told reporters. “The way they communicated things. Some of the ways they felt like I could improve to me was really cool. Something I was really excited about.
“The Dodgers track record speaks for itself. I didn’t need a sales pitch to know where they’re coming from and what they can do.”
Heaney was asked about the December 1 lockout date and if he wanted to make sure he signed with a team in the next few weeks. He said that after the season he had in 2021, signing with a team early in the process was crucial to him.
“Getting on a program and getting on board quickly and getting an entire offseason to start with some of the changes I need to make or they want me to make will be really beneficial to me.”
The 30-year-old knows that last season was one he’d like to forget. He went 8-9 and posted an ERA of 5.83. Heaney said he knows that he was much better than his numbers indicated last year — and he’s got a point.
Although his posted a 5.83 ERA, his expected ERA was 4.01, nearly two runs lower. His expected FIP (4.12) was also lower than his actual FIP (4.85). Still, those numbers aren’t ideal by any means, but things certainly weren’t as disastrous as they may appear upon first glance.
“I know that I’m much better than my numbers say I was last year,” he said. “It was eye-opening to see how many other teams felt the same way. I wanted to have a good partnership with whoever I signed with.”
There are certain things to really like about what Heaney brings to the table. He has a really good strikeout rate and a fairly low walk rate. What really hurt him in 2021 was the long ball, as he allowed more than two home runs per nine innings. He said he wasn’t able to go into detail, but Heaney said the Dodgers have already spoken with him about some changes that he can make to his game. Changes that he’s embraced and excited to get to work on.
Last year, Robbie Ray signed a similar contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. Fast forward a year and Ray is the favorite to win the AL Cy Young Award. Heaney has heard about those comparisons, and he thinks there’s a chance that he can turn things around the way Ray did.
“It’s realistic,” he said. “I’m not predicting I’m going to win the Cy Young next year, but teams look at not just stuff, but underlying metrics. I’m fully admitting the year last year was not the one I wanted to have. There are some things I can do better and some small things that can make big differences.”
I don’t think the Dodgers are expecting a Cy Young season from Heaney. But hey, if he’s in the running a year from now, I don’t think they’ll be too upset.