The free agent left-hander signed an $8.5 million, one-year deal this week that brings him back to Southern California, where he pitched for the Angels from 2015 until getting shipped to the New York Yankees at the July trade deadline.
He was a combined 8-9 with a 5.83 ERA last season. He fared worse in New York, where he was 2-2 with a 7.32 ERA in 12 games, including five starts, after the swap.
"I didn't turn it around, and that's something I wish maybe hadn't gone the way that it did," he said Friday in a video interview. "There's some things I probably left on the table there."
The Dodgers are gambling that Heaney will improve in 2022 based on numbers other than his record and ERA. He recorded 150 strikeouts and 41 walks in 129 2/3 innings. They rewarded him with a bigger salary than the $6.75 million he made last season. He can earn an extra $1 million in performance bonuses: $250,000 each for 100, 125, 150 and 175 innings.
"I know that I'm much better than my numbers say I was last year," he said.
Heaney's situation has drawn comparisons to Toronto's Robbie Ray, who turned his career around and performed at a high enough level to be the favorite to win the American League Cy Young Award.
"I'm not sitting here predicting I'm going to go win the Cy Young next year, but I do think there were teams that look not only at pitchers' stuff, but also underlying metrics," Heaney said. "I'm fully admitting the year I had last year is not what I wanted to have. There are some things I could do a lot better and probably some really small things that are going to make big differences."
Heaney heads into the offseason with a new team for the first time in several years. He flew to Los Angeles to talk with manager Dave Roberts and pitching coach Mike Prior among others about specific changes he needs to make.
Joking that he didn't want to put "proprietary information on the streets," Heaney said they discussed "little minor things that had never crossed my mind or been brought to my attention."
"Couple things mechanically, minor tweaks with a few of my pitches, some things I could do better," he said. "I don't think it's one major thing, it's just a culmination of a lot of little things."
Coming off the disappointing season, Heaney said he was eager to sign with a team early and have a full offseason to implement changes. He refused an outright minor league assignment from the Yankees on Oct. 7 and became a free agent.
"That allowed us to start talking to teams before the World Series was over," he said. "That's why things happened so quickly."