Free agency is officially underway, and with the Mets staring down multiple holes in the rotation, bullpen and lineup, they’ll be among the sport’s more active teams again this winter. A pair of early targets for the team include left-hander Andrew Heaney, per Newsday’s Tim Healey, and old friend Michael Confort, per Will Sammon of The Athletic.
The interest in Heaney is sensible on many levels. First and foremost, the Mets currently face the possibility of losing Jacob deGrom, Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker to free agency. Heaney certainly isn’t going to offset a potential deGrom loss, but the Mets figure to cast a wide net in sifting through starting pitching options, as it’s unlikely that they’ll come to a middle ground and re-sign all three of their rotation free agents. Secondly, GM Billy Eppler knows Heaney quite well, having spent the 2015-20 seasons as the Angels’ general manager; Heaney, while originally acquired when Jerry Dipoto was the Halos’ GM, was with the Angels for all six of those seasons.
Beyond the sheer need in the rotation and the familiarity with the pitcher and person in Heaney, his 2022 breakout with the Dodgers was nothing short of remarkable. A pair of shoulder troubles limited him to 72 2/3 innings, and that’s a concern for any pitcher but especially one with Heaney’s lengthy injury history. However, when he was able to take the mound, the 31-year-old southpaw worked to a tidy 3.10 ERA with the second-best strikeout rate (35.5%) and best swinging-strike rate (16.8%) of the 188 pitchers who tossed at least 70 frames in 2022.
Heaney’s emergence came on the heels of the Dodgers scrapping nearly his entire arsenal. Heaney continued throwing a four-seamer he debuted in 2021 — he’d previously used a sinker as his primary heater — but dumped his changeup and curveball in favor of a new slider that proved to be an absolute knockout offering. Heaney was almost all four-seamers and sliders in 2022, with the lone exception being a 5% usage rate on the aforementioned changeup (which he once threw at a 23% clip).
As for Conforto, a reunion makes some sense — though only if the Mets lose Brandon Nimmo to another club (or feel that his early asking price is simply beyond the pale). The longtime Mets slugger had a down season (by his standards) in 2021, though he still checked in as a slightly above-average offensive contributor. Unfazed by the dip in production, Conforto rejected a qualifying offer in search…