Heilman signs Minor League deal
It’s generally smart not to make too big a deal out of guys signing Minor League deals with invites to Major League camp, but the Mariners made an interesting move Tuesday in bringing back veteran reliever Aaron Heilman.
You might recall the big right-hander being part of the Mariners for six weeks between trades in the 2008 offseason. He even appeared at Mariners FanFest after being acquired from the Mets in the J.J. Putz swap, but then was dealt to the Cubs a few weeks later for Ronny Cedeno and Garrett Olson.
So Heilman’s history with the Mariners is brief and could be again, given he’ll be one of a big group of relievers coming to Peoria as non-roster invitees, hoping to make the cut and continue their careers.
But Heilman, 33, has a chance. He’s been one baseball’s most durable bullpen men over the past six years and who knows, maybe he can be this year’s Jamey Wright.
Heilman has been with the D-backs the past two years, going 4-1 with a 6.88 ERA in 32 appearances last season. He was released by Arizona in July, then pitched in the Minor Leagues for the Phillies and Pirates.
It wasn’t a great season for him and he struggled with the long ball, giving up eight in just 35 1/3 innings. But in nine years in the Majors, he has a 35-46 record with a 4.40 ERA and 16 saves in 477 appearances, and he’s a flyball pitcher who could benefit from Safeco Field.
In short, who knows how much Heilman has left. But the Mariners intend to find out. And if he is still one of the game’s more durable arms, maybe this time he’ll get a chance to actually pitch in a Seattle uniform.