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Welcome Home, Aaron Heilman

Earlier today I was reading an article about researchers in Oregon creating the first-ever chimeric primates - primates with "up to six different genetic identities." Chimeric mice have been used in research for some time, but primates represent a new, more complicated advance. Science! Heil man, indeed.


Aaron Heilman has reached agreement with the #Mariners on minor league deal with an invite to big league camp.

Heilman, of course, has been Mariners property before. He came over in the Franklin Gutierrez trade, which became the Jason Vargas trade, which became the Jason Vargas and Mike Carp trade, and was never the Aaron Heilman trade. Some weeks later, he appeared at FanFest. Then he was traded to the Cubs for Garrett Olson and Ronny Cedeno. According to Baseball-Reference, as Mariners, Olson and Cedeno were worth a combined -1.9 WAR. Good trade.

What's interesting about Heilman is that, after the Mariners traded him away, I figured he kind of fell off the map. Dealt with injuries or hung out in the minors or went to Japan or something. Turns out he pitched a lot for the Cubs, and then a lot for the Diamondbacks, and then a lot but less for the Diamondbacks again. Over the past three years, Heilman made 172 appearances. Totally didn't know. My NL blind spot is enormous, or, if not enormous, at least exactly as big as Aaron Heilman.

Also over those three years, Heilman posted a 4.81 ERA with a lot of home runs. There's a reason he's signing a minor league contract. Last year he was running a 6.88 ERA before the Diamondbacks dropped him in July. He spent the rest of the year in triple-A for two different organizations.

So what do the Mariners see in a 33-year-old used-to-be-somebody? Well, for one thing, he used to be somebody, and he's only 33 years old. For another, last season, while the runs and hits and homers were too high, Heilman had 11 walks and 33 strikeouts in 35.1 innings. His strike rate was unimpressive, but he posted a lower contact rate than David Robertson, Sean Marshall and Neftali Feliz. That's good. Despite all the indications that Heilman was easy to hit, there are indications that Heilman was not easy to hit.

So, a chance. Heilman might not be anything for the Mariners, but he could be, and as with all minor league contracts, there's no commitment here. Maybe Heilman helps out in Seattle. Maybe Heilman helps out in Tacoma. Maybe Heilman doesn't help out anywhere because he is bad. To be determined!

Current bullpen "locks"

Brandon League
George Sherrill*
Shawn Kelley
Tom Wilhelmsen

Legitimate competitors

Steve Delabar
Charlie Furbush?*
Cesar Jimenez*
Lucas Luetge*
Chance Ruffin
Aaron Heilman
Matt Fox
Steve Garrison*
Jarrett Grube
Sean Henn*
Josh Kinney
Jeff Marquez
Scott Patterson
Philippe Valiquette*

Aaron Heilman fun fact: his career ERA+ of 97 is the same as Edwin Jackson's.