The Cincinnati Reds designated right-handed pitcher Heath Hembree for assignment on Tuesday. Hembree will immediately be placed on unconditional waivers, where every MLB team could claim him. A veteran reliever with more than 300 career big-league appearances, it would not be shocking to see him catch on elsewhere.
In 45 appearances this season, Hembree has recorded 68 strikeouts while surrendering 19 walks and 10 home runs across 42.1 innings pitched. While he’s posted a bad 6.38 ERA this season, his strong peripherals suggest he could be due for some positive regression. All of the notable ERA estimators are far higher on Hembree’s 2021 season (3.30 xERA, 4.53 FIP, and 3.60 xFIP).
Reds DFA former SF Giants prospect Heath Hembree.
The SF Giants drafted Hembree in the fifth round of the 2010 MLB draft out of South Carolina, where he had been one of the best closers in college baseball. Hembree made his big-league debut with the Giants in 2013 but was packaged with Edwin Escobar the following summer in a trade with the Boston Red Sox that brought Jake Peavy to San Francisco.
Within a year of the trade, Hembree carved himself a role in Boston’s bullpen, becoming a mainstay from 2015-2019. While he never served as a closer with the Red Sox, he remained a consistent high-leverage option, recording a 3.25 ERA in 138.1 innings pitched during his peak from 2015-2017.
Hembree remained a mainstay in Boston into last season, but after getting out to a slow start, he was packaged with reliever Brandon Workman in a trade to the Philadelphia Phillies. The right-hander struggled mightily in The City of Brotherly Love, posting a 12.54 ERA across 11 appearances. At the end of an abysmal 2020 season, Hembree became a free agent and signed a minor-league deal with the Reds.
While the SF Giants have exceptional depth, particularly in their bullpen, given his strong peripherals, it’s not out of the question that a reunion with Heath Hembree could be in the cards.