The Mariners have signed Aaron Heilman to a minor league deal that includes an invitation to Spring Training, the team announced. Frontline represents the 33-year-old right-hander. ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick first reported the move on Twitter.
Heilman spent the first half of the 2011 campaign with the Diamondbacks, who released him in July after he posted a 6.88 ERA with 8.4 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 28.5% ground ball rate in 35 1/3 innings. He later signed minor league deals with the Phillies and Pirates, but didn't pitch at the Major League level after July 15th.
Though Heilman has never suited up for the Mariners in his nine-year career, he was involved in the three-way trade between the Mets, Mariners and Indians that took place three offseasons ago. The Mariners acquired him from the Mets in December of 2008 and flipped him to the Cubs for Ronny Cedeno and Garrett Olson the next month.
Safeco Field should limit the number of home runs Heilman surrenders in 2012. One fifth of fly balls against him left the yard in 2011, a major reason for his unsightly ERA. It's hard to argue with Jack Zduriencik's low-risk gamble on a durable pitcher who could see his numbers improve in Seattle.