Heaney, Rutledge experience wild ride in flurry of moves
Lefty, infielder wind up with Angels after three deals during Winter Meetings
ANAHEIM -- Marlins president of baseball operations Mike Hill called Andrew Heaney twice in a five-minute span, first to tell the 23-year-old left-hander he was traded to the Dodgers in a seven-player deal and then to tell him he was being flipped to the Angels in exchange for second baseman Howie Kendrick.
Josh Rutledge, dealt from the Rockies to the Angels at almost the same time, was asleep.
The 25-year-old infielder was at his home in Atlanta, three hours ahead and deep into his bedtime as the Angels suddenly got busy from the Winter Meetings in San Diego late Wednesday night. It wasn't until 7:30 a.m. ET on Thursday that Rutledge felt a shake from his wife and heard the words, "I think you got traded."
"I was like, 'Oh yeah, for who?'" Rutledge said.
Then he checked his smart phone, saw 10-15 text messages, noticed a couple of missed calls from Rockies officials and found out he was dealt for relief pitcher prospect Jairo Diaz, basically to serve as Kendrick's replacement at second base.
"I wasn't really expecting to be traded," Rutledge said in a phone conversation on Friday, "so it definitely came as a bit of a shock. I think it's a great opportunity for us. I think it puts us in a good position, so we're really excited about it."
While Rutledge was counting sheep, Heaney was experiencing an emotional roller coaster.
Heaney was sitting in his home in Oklahoma City, tuned to MLB Network and keeping up with the head-spinning Dodgers moves that involved him going to Los Angeles. The Dodgers never called. He was part of their organization for only a few minutes before they used him as a pawn to shore up second base.
Heaney had fun with it via Twitter, expressing gratitude to be a member of the Dodgers ...
... then he picked up about 5,000 new followers.
"Now everybody expects me to be this really funny guy," Heaney said. "I don't know. I don't think I'm that funny. All those new followers I just picked up are going to be really disappointed."
The Angels don't expect to be.
Heaney is already the clear No. 1 prospect in his new organization and the No. 18 prospect in all of baseball, according to MLB.com's rankings. He was the ninth overall pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, he's posted a 2.77 ERA while striking out 9.1 batters per nine innings in his Minor League career and he will compete with Hector Santiago and Nick Tropeano for the fifth spot in the Angels' rotation in Spring Training.
Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto called Heaney shortly after Hill called him a second time on Wednesday night.
"It was really positive," Heaney said of his conversation with Dipoto while on a conference call with reporters on Friday.
"He kind of joked about it being a crazy, hectic day, and he said, 'You're going to come into Spring Training in Arizona and be in a good spot and be competing for a job in the rotation.' I felt very uplifted, very happy."
The time zone difference didn't allow Rutledge to speak with Dipoto until it was already Thursday afternoon back east. When he did, his new boss told him, "It's probably going to be what he thinks has been my best opportunity to be an everyday player that I've had in my professional career so far," Rutledge said.
Rutledge is a natural shortstop who admittedly needs a lot more work at third base, and he has started to feel a little more comfortable at second base the last couple years.
"I definitely have room to improve there," Rutledge said. "But I definitely feel like I've made a lot of progress there, too."
Rutledge's calling card is his bat. He's batted .328/.386/.506 in the Minor Leagues since being drafted by the Rockies in the third round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
Though Rutledge's slash line has dropped to .259/.308/.403 in 266 games as a part-time player in the Majors the last three years, Dipoto said, "He's had extended streaks of performance that suggest he has a chance to be better than a Major League utility player."
Now he has a chance to be an everyday second baseman.
"That's definitely one of my goals," Rutledge said, "so I'm going to do everything I can to do that."
Heaney debuted in the Majors last season, a 29 1/3-inning stint that saw him give up 19 runs on 32 hits, six of which went over the wall for homers.
"Unfortunately," Heaney said, "I learned a lot more of what not to do than what to do."
Heaney is a lot better than what he showed in that short stint in the big leagues, scouts will tell you. He throws his fastball in the 92-mph range, uses his slider as an out pitch, is gaining more confidence in his changeup and sports an easy delivery. His Major League stint re-emphasized things like holding runners, keeping the ball down and building arm strength so he can stand up to a season.
Wednesday's experience taught him what it was like to be traded.
"I tried to remain pretty levelheaded about it," Heaney said. "The thing that made it good is that no matter what team I went to, I kind of felt like I was in the same position.
"With the Marlins, I went into the offseason knowing that I needed to be better and more physical and be able to withstand a full season, and [I] was going to go into Spring Training looking to win that starting job. I didn't really have time to process where I might stand with the Dodgers, but as soon as I found out I was with the Angels, I kind of put myself in that same position."