The Miami Marlins finally pulled the trigger on their most pivotal internal move of the 2014 season by promoting Andrew Heaney among a litany of other players today. Heaney was the team's best prospect before the season, and ever since the team lost Jose Fernandez for the season with Tommy John surgery, the team had to be considering the promotion of Heaney. He had been dominating in Double- and Triple-A, putting up a combined 2.47 ERA and 2.36 FIP in 76 2/3 innings in those levels. His addition will definitely serve to add to the Marlins' chances in the pennant run.
The Marlins not only did the right thing to promote Heaney, who spent the year showing he was ready to be a Major League starter, but they also did the right thing in promoting him now rather than sooner or later. As noted in the previously linked article from Fish Stripes, Heaney is almost certain to miss Super Two status for the Marlins, meaning the team will not have to pay significant arbitration costs for him early in his career. For a cost-conscious club like the Fish, this gives the team the best of both worlds; Heaney comes in June, at a critical juncture to the club's potential playoff chances, and gets to contribute for possibly 50 percent of the season, and the team gets that critical half-season of Heaney at almost peak form at the pre-arbitration cost. The team essentially got a most important free half-season from Heaney,
Just as important is that the Marlins did not panic and turn to him earlier in the year as they did with Jose Fernandez, who lost a year of eligibility because the team threw him one extra start at the beginning of the season (even more egregious given that Fernandez was shut down at the end of the year). The Fish could have turned to Heaney last month, when Fernandez went down, but there was no guarantee that he was significantly better than the alternatives in such a short time span. The deposed Randy Wolf had a terrible time in Miami, posting a 5.26 ERA and 4.33 FIP in six appearances and four starts. While Wolf performed poorly, the Marlins hedged their bets that Heaney's projection would be worth less than a win more than Wolf, and with the team uncertain to be a contender in 2014, any lost wins would likely be made up for the money saved in arbitration. The Marlins gave Wolf a chance to right the ship, and through four starts and just about 20 innings, the team pulled the plug and decided to turn to the superior option once the financial hurdles cleared.
This represents a different approach than the one they took with Fernandez, but one that makes a lot of sense. Once the Fish decided not to promote Heaney around late April, as they had with Marcell Ozuna before, the team's next barrier was the Super Two deadline, and the Marlins would be wrong to not clear it unless the team was in desperate contention status. Seeing as though the NL East has likely better teams in the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, the Marlins wisely struck a balance towards contending now by getting Heaney here as soon as financially feasible.
Combine that with the team's likely approach of skipping starts with Heaney in order to conserve his innings for potentially higher stakes at the end of the season and you get a recipe for a smashing success. Miami neither jumped the gun for a pipe dream nor abandoned the 2014 season while it still had a chance. It went to the right player after it had seen just enough from the wrong options. The Marlins made the right move today, and Marlins fans should look forward to seeing Heaney this week.
What do you Fish Stripers think? Was this the right time for a move?