On Friday evening, the Seattle Mariners decided to take a chance on a former Boston Red Sox reliever.
Heath Hembree is an 11-year MLB veteran who's cycled between the majors and minors for a few seasons. Seattle signed him to a minor-league deal as the reliever tries to work his way back up to the big leagues. He's been assigned to Triple-A Tacoma.
Hembree spent the majority of his career with the Red Sox — six and a half seasons — after being traded from the Giants in 2014. He pitched to a 3.70 ERA in his 257.2 innings with Boston. His best years were 2016 and 2017 when he logged ERAs of 2.65 and 3.63, respectively.
The right-hander's strikeout-to-walk ratio was impressive during his years with Boston, coming in at 270-to-97 over his six-plus years with the team.
The Mariners have signed former Red Sox pitcher Heath Hembree to a minor-league deal
As Hembree aged and his years with the Red Sox came to a close, he was affected by multiple injuries that hampered his ability to perform at his fullest — in 2019, he spent a few stints on the injured list for different elbow issues.
The Sox traded Hembree at the right time and got a fine return for him. Boston sent the journeyman to Philadelphia in 2020 in exchange for Nick Pivetta, who is still serving the Red Sox well today. Hembree has played for five other teams since suiting up for the Phillies and he's only made 98 big-league appearances since 2020. He made just one appearance in the major leagues in 2023 — he pitched 1.1 innings for the Rays and he registered one walk and two strikeouts during his outing.
His minor league appearances from 2023 were much more fruitful. Hembree logged a 2.08 ERA in 14 outings with the Triple-A Durham Bulls and Toledo Mud Hens.
It's unclear what Hembree's role might be with the Mariners, but MLB Trade Rumors speculates he'll provide non-roster depth with the possibility of major league appearances upon injuries to Seattle's bullpen. Based on his 2023 minor league numbers, perhaps he finds success with his ninth major league club in five seasons.