Mariners Insider Blog

Heilman agrees to 2009 contract

The Mariners' final player eligible for arbitration was signed today. Pitcher Aaron Heilman, who was part of the monster three-team trade for J.J. Putz, agreed to a one-year deal for this season.

"Aaron is a very versatile pitcher and is an important part of our pitching staff in 2009,"

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said in a press release. "It is good to settle all these negotiations and head into spring training focused on working hard and getting prepared for the 2009 season."

The 30-year-old Heilman finished 2009 with a 3-8 record and a 5.21 ERA (44 ER, 76.0 IP) in 78 relief appearances with the New York Mets last season. Towards the end of the season he was forced to take over the closing duties when Billy Wagner was injured. He struggled in that role, drawing the ire of angry Met fans, who often used him as the prime example of a faltering bullpen.

He was acquired by Seattle on Dec. 10, 2008 in a three-team, 12-player trade that sent J.J. Putz (rhp), Jeremy Reed (of) and Sean Green (rhp) to the Mets.

Since 2006, Heilman has the second-most innings (249.0), fourth-most appearances (233) and fifth-most holds (64) among Major League relievers. However, he told Mets officials after last season that he would like to return to starting.

Since acquiring Heilman for Putz, the Mariners haven't decided on a role for Heilman, though with seven starters already vying for the rotation, he seems either destined for the bullpen or possibly a candidate to be traded again. In 25 career starts, Heilman is 5-13 with a 5.93 ERA