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Mariners Sign Heath Hembree To Minor League Deal

The Mariners recently inked veteran right-hander Heath Hembree to a minor league deal, according to the transactions section of the righty’s MLB.com profile page.

Hembree, 35 last month, is a veteran of 11 major league seasons. After being selected in the fifth round of the 2010 draft by the Giants, Hembree worked his way through the minor leagues to make his debut during the 2013 season. His first cup of coffee in the majors was an impressive one, as the right-hander struck out 12 while allowing four hits and two walks across 7 2/3 scoreless innings for San Francisco that season. Hembree’s time with the big league club in San Francisco was short-lived, however, as he was swapped to the Red Sox in a deal that netted the Giants Jake Peavy the following summer.

In joining the Red Sox, Hembree found his new home for the next seven seasons. During that time, he made 251 appearances with the club, pitching to a 3.70 ERA and 4.32 FIP while striking out 24.2% of batters faced. The strongest stretch of the right-hander’s tenure in Boston came in 2016 and 2017, when Hembree made himself a key member of the club’s late-inning mix with a 3.19 ERA (142 ERA+) and a 3.88 FIP in 100 appearances. Unfortunately, Hembree began to struggle with injuries late in his tenure with the club and missed nearly two months with elbow issues during the 2019 season.

The Red Sox eventually dealt Hembree to the Phillies as part of a larger deal that brought Nick Pivetta to Boston ahead of the trade deadline during the shortened 2020 season. Since then, the right-hander has become something of a journeyman. Over the past four seasons, Hembree has played for seven different clubs while struggling to a 6.55 ERA and 5.84 FIP and managing just 100 1/3 innings in the majors during that time. The most recent big league stop in the veteran’s travels was with the Rays back in April. While in Tampa, the right-hander posted 1 1/3 scoreless innings during his lone major league appearance last year.

After being designated for assignment by the Rays and electing free agency, Hembree caught on with the Tigers last year and enjoyed some brief success at the Triple-A level, where he posted a 3.00 ERA with a 24% strikeout rate. Unfortunately his stay with the organization would last just six innings as Hembree was placed on the injured list for more than a month before he was released by the club in early July.

Now, Hembree is poised to join his ninth big league organization over the past five years. The Mariners feature a strong trio of high-leverage options in the form of Andres Munoz, Matt Brash, and Gregory Santos, though Hembree could get a look in the event of an injury somewhere in the club’s bullpen provided he’s healthy. In the meantime, he figures to provide Seattle with a non-roster depth option who has found success at the major league level in the past and could compete with the likes of Jackson Kowar and Trent Thornton for a role in the big league bullpen this spring.

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