Dodgers sign ‘upside play’ lefty starter who was awful in 2021

Adam Weinrib
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: Andrew Heaney #38 and Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the New York Yankees in action against the Baltimore Orioles during a game at Yankee Stadium on September 5, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: Andrew Heaney #38 and Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the New York Yankees in action against the Baltimore Orioles during a game at Yankee Stadium on September 5, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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We’ll get this straight, right up top: the Los Angeles Dodgers are unwilling to pay $18.4 million for Clayton Kershaw in 2022, but will willingly pay $8 million for Andrew Heaney on the oft-chance this is finally the stop where he puts it all together.

What is “it all” referring to? A 92 MPH fastball he’s never been able to locate, a changeup that always seems to catch too much plate, and an arsenal that resulted in bottom-of-the-barrel barrel percentage, hard-hit rate and exit velocity in 2021, across stops in both Anaheim and New York with the Yankees.

Still, the rarefied air in Andrew Friedman’s office certainly has the executive believing that he’s pulled off a coup and jumped the offseason line to get his hands on Heaney.

Again, for $8 million of human money.

What couldn’t the Angels catch? Why did Yankees guru Matt Blake fail to preach location and changeup usage to Heaney, as he had successfully to every other pitcher on the 2021 staff? Who knows, but the Dodgers are betting Mark Prior has the antidote.

Dodgers sign left-hander ‘Robbie Ray’ — oh, sorry, Andrew Heaney.

You’re going to hear everybody referring to Heaney and Robbie Ray in the same sentence for the lockout-filled weeks and months. That’s because Ray was an outright disaster in 2019 and 2020 (4.34, 6.62 ERAs) and Heaney was, recently, too (7.32 ERA in the Bronx during 2021’s playoff push, never had an ERA below 4.15 since his rookie season).

Ray’s got velocity, though, something Heaney’s never possessed. Heaney’s strikeout rate has always been moderately high (180 in 180 innings in 2018, 150 in 129.2 last year), but it’s never come close to Ray’s (235 in 174.1 innings in 2019).

Ray is an ace who recently shrugged off his control issues thanks to several mechanical changes. Heaney is a career No. 4 who’s never lived up to his top prospect pedigree and has to skate through 5.0 innings of perfect execution just to survive.

All that said…everybody wants him. His savant profile looks a lot like Ray’s from 2020. And that’s enough for the Moneyball wheeler-and-dealers.

Heaney’s most recent public appearance was a terrible (terrible) second half cameo in the Bronx during which anonymous scouts dropped repeatedly that he wasn’t the type of player who’s prepared for primetime. He joined a pitching factory in the Bronx that turned Nestor Cortes Jr. into a No. 3 in two months, but nothing they told him helped with location, tunneling, or playing up his below-average fastball.

Now, it’s going to ALL come together in Los Angeles, a few miles down the road from his earlier failures. Sure thing, folks.

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