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Everybody is vying for upside on the mound at different levels

Andrew Heaney and José Quintana with similar deals for similar reasons

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Los Angeles Angels Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

November 10th: Dodgers sign Andrew Heaney to a one-year $8.5 MM contract.

November 21st: Pirates sign José Quintana to a one-year $2 MM deal.

If you followed the 2021 season even from afar, you’re aware that it was a low point for each of these two once upon a time albeit at different levels, very exciting southpaws. The parallel between these two is very interesting and it has different layers.

  1. They both started the year with the Los Angeles Angels in for all intents and purposes, one-year contracts.

Despite the unprecedented success of one Shohei Ohtani, the Halos had another underwhelming season with virtually not even a glimpse at playoff contention. Although it’s easy to look at the injuries and lack of production out of its two highest-paid players in Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon as an offsetting factor for the major impact of Ohtani, the answer also lies with the staff.

It wouldn’t be far-fetched to imagine a scenario where both Quintana and Heaney contribute with a much bigger impact than what we saw in 2021. When a pitcher with the pedigree, stuff, and peripherals of this caliber is struggling continuously, he’s not nearly as far away from putting it all together as he seems. Not a perfect comparison, far from it, but think of Robbie Ray before this year - That’s why despite a second half with a 76 ERA+ and a career mark at 90, the Los Angeles Dodgers offered to pay Heaney $8.5 MM for a single season of his services.

Neither of those guys helped the Angels’ cause and its failure in that department with what at the time seems like reliable pitchers, that ultimately has derailed this franchise from a playoff berth over the last several years. For the following campaign, the narrative remains, now with a larger gamble and subsequently a bigger upside. Noah Syndergaard coming off a lost year for a prove-it deal at $25 MM.

2. They both represent an industry-wide search and high evaluation of arms that come with above-average peripherals even if the ultimate results are subpar.

Neither Quintana nor Heaney were signed as quote-unquote innings eaters. The Dodgers and Pirates are looking to capitalize on the potential of these two, hopefully unlocking it and fulfilling the promise of each.

Both of these left-handers in down years bolstered an above-average K%, Quintana at 28.6 and Heaney 26.9. The league average mark is 23.2

In fact, it is Quintana’s second trip down this line having signed a one-year deal just a season ago, with the Angels at around what Heaney got his first time around. It remains to be seen how it will turn out for either of them and it’s hard to provide a predictive guess without knowing what sort of adjustments the two organizations plan on encouraging, but the potential is there.

Andrew Heaney and José Quintana didn’t achieve the results they’re capable of in 2021, nevertheless if you look beyond the surface there are signs of encouragement and it shows in the financial guarantee that they received, especially Heaney.