The Orioles have acquired right-hander Jonathan Heasley from the Royals in exchange for minor league right-hander Cesar Espinal, per announcements from both clubs. This appears to be the corresponding move for right-hander Michael Wacha, whose deal with the Royals was officially announced by that club earlier today. Jeff Passan of ESPN relayed the deal prior to the official announcements. Baltimore’s 40-man count is now at 38.
Heasley, 27 in January, was a 13th-round pick of the Royals in 2018 but seemed to increase his stock with a strong 2021 campaign. That year, he tossed 105 1/3 innings in Double-A with a 3.33 earned run average, striking out 27.7% of batters faced while issuing walks at just a 7.9% clip. He was added to the Kansas City roster in mid-September and went into 2022 with a bit of helium. FanGraphs and Baseball America each ranked him the club’s #13 prospect for 2022.
He hasn’t found much success since then, however, serving as a frequently-optioned depth arm. In his 133 2/3 major league innings to this point, he has a 5.45 ERA and 14.5% strikeout rate. In 134 Triple-A innings over the past two years, he has a 6.11 ERA, though his 22.6% strikeout rate at that level is more encouraging. He still has an option so the O’s can continue to develop him without having to give Heasley a spot on the active roster. He has worked both as a starter and reliever in recent years, though it’s unclear if the O’s have a particular role in mind for him.
Espinal, 18, is not a prospect of note as of right now. He has 53 2/3 innings of minor league experience thus far, pitching in the Dominican Summer League in the past two years. He has a 4.02 ERA in that time, along with a 21.9% strikeout rate and 11% walk rate.