The Yankees announced they’ve reinstated Jonathan Loáisiga from the 10-day injured list. To open space on the active roster, New York optioned Andrew Heaney to their rookie-level Florida Complex League affiliate.
This surely isn’t the result New York envisioned when they acquired Heaney just before this summer’s trade deadline. Heaney owned just a 5.27 ERA at the time, but the Yankees bet that his high-end strikeout and walk rates (28.2% and 7.7%, respectively) would translate into stronger future results.
That hasn’t yet proven to be the case. Heaney was installed into the Yankees’ rotation over the first month after the trade, but he was tagged for 18 runs in 26 innings, largely thanks to a staggering nine home runs allowed. New York moved him into the bullpen after that rough start, but he’s been even less effective in that new role. Over seven relief outings, the southpaw has served up eleven runs in 9 2/3 frames, including four more long balls. Heaney has actually continued to post decent strikeout and walk numbers in pinstripes, but he’s been so homer-prone that hasn’t mattered.
It’s an especially inopportune time for Heaney to post arguably the worst season of his career. He’ll hit free agency for the first time this winter, coming off a campaign in which he’s tossed 129 2/3 innings of 5.83 ERA ball between Anaheim and the Bronx. He’ll present a rather difficult evaluation for teams. Because of his strong strikeout and walk rates, Heaney’s SIERA remains quite good (3.83). Of the 122 pitchers with 100+ innings, only four have a worse home run rate than Heaney’s 2.01 HR/9, though, and his second half struggles became significant enough the Yankees have bumped him from the active roster for a few of their most important games of the year.
Heaney has more than five years of major league service time, meaning he could not be optioned without consenting to a minor league assignment. Presumably, the Yankees offered him the choice of agreeing to the option or being designated for assignment (which almost certainly would’ve resulted in him being released). Rather than refuse the assignment and be cut from the organization altogether, he’ll head to the complex in hopes of straightening things out. He remains on the 40-man roster and could still be a depth option should the Yankees qualify for the postseason.
Loáisiga will try to help the Yankees get to the playoffs, as he returns after a three-week absence due to a shoulder strain. He has been among the club’s most effective relievers this season, tossing 68 frames of 2.25 ERA ball. The Yankees have reeled off seven consecutive wins to put themselves in great position to land a spot in the AL Wild Card game, but they’ll need to at least take a game or two in their final couple series with the Blue Jays and Rays to feel completely comfortable about their chances of nailing that berth down.