The moves do not affect their chances of making the Opening Day roster when baseball resumes. Both were in competition for jobs when Spring Training was suspended because of the national emergency created by the coronavirus pandemic. That competition will continue when the game resumes.
Heineman is one of the Rangers' candidates for a spot as the fourth outfielder and was 11-for-31 (.355) with two doubles and two triples in 15 Cactus League games. The Rangers outfield was in a state of flux when Spring Training was shut down because Willie Calhoun was sidelined with a fractured jaw.
The Rangers did not expect Calhoun to be ready for Opening Day, which was supposed to be on Thursday against the Mariners in Seattle. Now, the Rangers are optimistic Calhoun will be fully recovered once baseball starts up again.
Hearn emerged in Spring Training as a left-handed candidate for the bullpen. He appeared in four games and allowed two runs on three hits in six innings with two walks and seven strikeouts.
Heineman and Hearn are part of a wave of players being optioned to the Minor Leagues this week as clubs are bracing for a possible transaction freeze soon.
Players who are optioned before the freeze won’t be restricted by the 10/15 day waiting period for optioned players. They would be able to be recalled and possibly make the Opening Day roster.
Players optioned later could be restricted as to when they can be recalled. The moves with Heineman and Hearn allow the Rangers more roster flexibility. Also, players who are optioned while baseball is out and end up getting hurt won’t be required to go on the Major League injured list.