After appearing in 70 games as one of the most consistent arms in the hapless Arizona Diamondbacks bullpen last year, Aaron Heilman is back with the Snakes. He signed a one-year, $2 million deal that was below market value because the Diamondbacks gave him assurances that he would be in the mix for a spot in the starting rotation.
"Aaron Heilman was seeking an opportunity this offseason to become a starting pitcher and we were looking to acquire additional veteran depth to compete for a starting rotation spot," general manager Kevin Towers said. "Heilman will have a chance to compete for the fifth spot in our rotation this spring."
The Diamondbacks' rotation appeared to be set with veteran southpaws Zach Duke and Joe Saunders lending stability to an exciting trio of young right-handers: Daniel Hudson, Ian Kennedy, and Barry Enright. Heilman, who has always had designs on starting but who carries an appalling 5-13 record and 5.93 ERA in 25 career starts, does give the rotation some additional depth.
"We're willing to give him an opportunity to go battle it out against guys like Duke and Enright and see if he can win the job," Towers said. "If he doesn't, we certainly didn't give him any guarantees... he would go back in the ‘pen."
Saunders is one of two arbitration-eligible players who came to terms with Arizona today. After leading all of Major League Baseball with 17 losses last season, Saunders will make $5.5 million in 2011. Stephen Drew, the other player who came to terms, actually inked a two-year deal worth $13.75 million that includes a mutual $10 million option for 2013, which is his first season of free agent eligibility.
The Diamondbacks also formally announced their signing of utility player Willie Bloomquist. That transaction had been reported several days earlier.
To make room for Heilman and Bloomquist on the 40-man roster, the Diamondbacks designated right-handers Daniel Stange and Brian Sweeney for assignment. Kelly Johnson and Miguel Montero are the two arbitration-eligible players who have yet to come to terms with Arizona.
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