As pitchers and catchers report to their respective spring training camps this week, the Red Sox are reportedly interested in adding to their bullpen mix.
According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Sox “have some interest” in free-agent right-handed reliever Ben Heller.
Heller, 29, was released by the Yankees last week after initially being designated for assignment so that the club could make room on its 40-man roster for fellow reliever Darren O’Day.
In parts of four seasons (2016-17, 2019-20) with New York, the Wisconsin native posted a 2.59 ERA and 5.57 FIP over 31 total appearances and 31 1/3 innings of work.
The reason Heller did not pitch in 2018 was due to the fact that he underwent Tommy John surgery that also involved the removal of a bone spur in his throwing elbow in April of that year.
Per Baseball Savant, the 6-foot-3, 210 lb. righty operates with a four-seam fastball, a curveball, and a changeup.
Originally selected by the Indians in the 22nd round of the 2013 draft out of Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.), Heller is perhaps most notably known for being part of the trade that sent left-hander Andrew Miller to Cleveland and outfielder Clint Frazier and lefty Justus Sheffield, then top prospects, to New York in July 2016.
As noted by Cotillo, Heller should be a popular name on the free-agent market because not only has he put up decent numbers in the majors, but he’s also under team control for three more seasons and has one minor-league option remaining on his contract.
Taking those factors into consideration, it doesn’t seem too far-fetched to think that Heller could net himself a major-league deal — or at the very least a potentially lucrative minor-league pact with an invite to big-league camp — at some point before Opening Day.
If the Red Sox were to sign Heller, or another available reliever, to a major-league contract, they would have to clear a 40-man roster spot for that individual since their 40-man is currently at full capacity.
That note does not take into account that utilityman Marwin Gonzalez still needs to be added to the 40-man as well since his signing has not yet been made official.
(Picture of Ben Heller: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)