The Red Sox are still looking to find at least one more reliever from outside the organization to fortify their bullpen, but in the meantime they are taking care of some business in their current unit. After agreeing to terms to avoid arbitration with Tyler Thornburg back at the start of the month, they’ve done the same with Heath Hembree on Friday. The deal was first reported by Fancred Sports’ Jon Heyman, and is for $1,312,500.
heath hembree, Red Sox settle at $1,312,500 (sorry misstyped figure 1st time)— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 21, 2018
The Red Sox have a busy arbitration period ahead of them this year, with big names like Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. all being eligible. Because of that, it makes sense to try and get as many of these smaller deals done as possible when you can. The Hembree contract is actually a bit more than was projected by MLB Trade Rumors at the start of the offseason, beating their projection by $112,500. Combined with the Thornburg deal, the team has saved about $385,000 compared to the MLBTR projections.
Hembree is not necessarily guaranteed a roster spot coming out of spring training, even with this deal. I haven’t seen anything indicating whether or not this contract is guaranteed, but the assumptions is that it’s not. The vast majority of the time, these arbitration contracts are non-guaranteed meaning the team is not on the hook for most of the deal if the player doesn’t make the roster out of spring training. The righty does have an inside track towards a spot as a long-time member of the team who doesn’t have options, but the Red Sox have a number of right-handed relievers to choose from all in that middle tier. Barring injuries, someone is going to have to move out. Hembree has the talent to be a major-league contributor and has shown plenty of flashes in the majors, but he has to be more consistent if he wants to stick on a contending team.