'Excited to be a part of it': Heaney welcomed by Rangers

December 15th, 2022

ARLINGTON -- As Andrew Heaney made his way through the halls of Globe Life Field -- with pictures of former players like slugger Adrián Beltré surrounding him -- he couldn’t help but recall the old Rangers lineups he had faced over the years.

“[I saw] the one of Beltré and I was like, ‘Oh man, that's giving me flashbacks,’” Heaney said. “I think for me it was always a tough lineup that, through my whole career, had always given me some problems.”

But now, the 31-year-old southpaw doesn’t have to worry about that, because players like Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Adolis García and Nathaniel Lowe (who combined for 113 home runs in 2022) are his teammates.

Heaney was formally introduced by the Rangers on Thursday, after signing a two-year deal reportedly worth $25 million with the club last week.

"Understanding the direction, the trajectory of the team, the organization, the way they viewed me as a pitcher -- they understood who I am, what I do, what I do well, but also understood what I want to do better and how they can help me do that. For me, that was a huge part of [choosing the Rangers]," Heaney said.

The Oklahoma native is the third new starting pitcher the Rangers have acquired this offseason. The club had already signed ace Jacob deGrom and traded for Jake Odorizzi. The Rangers also brought back Martín Pérez on a one-year qualifying offer.

"We set out this offseason to improve our starting pitching," said Texas general manager Chris Young, who presented Heaney with a No. 44 Rangers jersey. "We feel like at this point, going into the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023, that we have accomplished that by adding Jacob and obviously Andrew, Martín, Jake Odorizzi. We feel very good about where we are as an organization in addressing a big area of need, and we couldn't be more happy that Andrew has chosen to be a member of the Texas Rangers."

Over the offseason, Young emphasized that starting pitching -- an area the Rangers have lacked in recent years -- was the club’s top priority. But with the latest addition of Heaney, that’s no longer the case.

“We know that things happen and we can never have enough starting pitching, but I wouldn't say it's our top priority at this point,” Young said.

Heaney brings depth and experience to a starting rotation that features deGrom, Pérez, Odorizzi and Jon Gray.

In 72 2/3 innings last season, Heaney finished with personal bests in ERA (3.10), WHIP (1.09), K/9 (13.6) and K/BB (5.79) for the Dodgers. It was a big bounceback from 2021, when Heaney had a 5.83 ERA for the Angels and Yankees.

"New York wasn't the best I've ever pitched. Going into that offseason, and going to the Dodgers, [I really understood] that it was gonna be a bit of a retooling, a reimagining of my stuff, how I use it, how I wanted to approach getting hitters out," Heaney said. "With those guys, they're great from all the different aspects of how they handle pitching. I really learned a lot about myself and how to reinvent some of the things that I was doing. That's obviously a credit to [Dodgers pitching coach] Mark Prior, those guys on the pitching side of the Dodgers.

"That's definitely something I want to build on. There's still a couple of things that I think I can do better, and I'm excited to be here and work with [Rangers pitching coach] Mike Maddux and the guys here to really build upon that."

Though he missed several months of the 2022 season due to left shoulder issues, Heaney averaged 13.6 strikeouts per nine innings. He was one of the top strikeout pitchers in baseball when he was on the mound -- like his new teammate, deGrom.

They were both in a group of four pitchers last season who ranked in the 95th percentile or better in whiff rate, chase rate and strikeout rate. Now they're pitching in the same rotation.

"I'm excited to get to play with him, get to pick his brain," Heaney said. "But I'm excited to also talk to Martín Pérez and Jon Gray, Odorizzi, all the guys in this rotation. I'm excited to be a part of it."