Outside of Matt Barnes and Craig Kimbrel, no Red Sox reliever has appeared in more games or pitched more innings than Heath Hembree the last three seasons.
But his work gets little attention. Hembree has pitched parts of six seasons in the majors without a save and this season was left off the postseason roster before getting back on when Steven Wright reinjured his left knee.
Hembree got in four playoff games and pitched well. He went 4⅔ innings without allowing a run or a hit.
And on Friday Hembree was rewarded. In his first year of arbitration eligibility, the righthander signed a one-year deal for $1,312,500. That’s a $731,000 raise from last season.
Hembree appeared in 67 games last season. He had a 4.20 earned run average but struck out a career-best 11.4 per nine innings and held opponents to a .312 on-base percentage.
The Sox still have 10 players who are eligible for arbitration — Barnes, Wright, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Brock Holt, Sandy Leon, Eduardo Rodriguez, Blake Swihart, and Brandon Workman.
All are considered signed players. If the sides do not agree to terms, a hearing will determine their salary for next season.