D-backs Acquire Heilman for Two Prospects

D-backs fans are used to seeing trades with a Chicago team, but this time, the Chicago White Sox are not involved. The Arizona Diamondbacks acquired right-handed pitcher Aaron Heilman today from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for left-handed reliever Scott Maine and first baseman Ryne White.

Aaron Heilman went 4-4 with 1 save and a 4.11 ERA (33 ER in 72.1 IP) in 70 relief appearances for the Cubs. He held opponents to a .257 batting average, walked 34 batters, and struck out 65.  He had been in the mix for the fifth starter's spot in spring training, but lost by a mile to Sean Marshall. He has always been happier in the starter's role, but has not made a start since 2005.

Heilman, 31, is 26-37 with 10 saves and a 4.22 ERA (245 ER in 522.2 IP) in 375 career games (25 starts) over parts of seven big league seasons for the New York Mets (2003-2008) and Cubs (2009). In 350 relief appearances, he is 21-24 with 10 saves and a 3.63 ERA, and opponents have hit .235 against him with 153 walks and 354 strikeouts. In 25 career starts, he is 5-13 with a 5.93 ERA while his opponents have batted .279 with 66 walks and 106 strikeouts.

"Aaron has been a successful, durable reliever who will add experience and stability to our bullpen," said D-backs GM Josh Byrnes.

Scott Maine, 24, was the D-backs' sixth-round selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. In 2009, he went a combined 4-5 with 7 saves and a 2.90 ERA in 48 relief appearances between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno. Over parts of three seasons in the D-backs farm system, he went 8-7 with 13 saves and a 3.29 ERA  in 88 relief outings.

Maine had become expendable after southpaws Daniel Schlereth and Clay Zavada took big steps forward in 2009.  Prospects such as Leyson Septimo, Jordan Norberto, Tom Layne, and Taylor Sinclair also had impressive years, giving the D-backs unusual depth in their left-handed bullpen ranks.

Ryne White, 23, was the D-backs fourth-round selection in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. In 2009, he hit .266 (111-for-418) with 18 doubles, a triple, six home runs and 52 RBI in 116 games for Hi-A Visalia. Over parts of two season in Arizona's minor league system, he hit .275 (194-for-705) with 37 doubles, two triples, 13 home runs and 103 RBI in 186 games.

The first base situation in Arizona became a lot more crowded after the selection of Ryan Wheeler and Paul Goldschmidt in this year's draft and the acquisition of Brandon Allen from the Chicago White Sox.  The possibility of first round picks Bobby Borchering and Matt Davidson moving across the diamond to first base at some point down the road made White something of an afterthought among D-backs first base prospects.

Because the D-backs did not lose any of their top prospects, this deal was a very good one for Josh Byrnes and company.  Heilman made $1.625 million last year and is arbitration-eligible this winter; he does not figure to break the bank.


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