Mark J. Rebilas / USA TODAY Sports Images

The St. Louis Cardinals have signed right-handed pitcher Jeremy Hefner and released left-hander Ismael Brito.

The St. Louis Cardinals signed a pitcher out of the bigs since 2013 and released a rookie-ball lefty.

The St. Louis Cardinals have signed right-handed pitcher Jeremy Hefner and released left-hander Ismael Brito, reports Baseball America.

Hefner, 29, a former member of the New York Mets rotation (36 starts in 2012 and 2013), is working his way back from two Tommy John surgeries, in August 2013 and again in October 2014. Hefner’s career major league record is 8-15 with a 4.65 ERA. The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder struck out 161 and walked 55 in 224 1/3 innings for the Mets.

The right-hander proved his readiness by pitching this winter for Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican Winter League, where he made five appearances, including three starts. There, Hefner allowed just two earned runs in 15 1/3 innings for a 1.15 ERA. He fanned eight and walked four.

The Oklahoma native, a former Oral Roberts University hurler, was originally signed by San Diego after being selected in the fifth round of the 2007 draft. Hefner moved from the Padres to the Pirates to the Mets in a pair of waiver claims less than one month apart in late 2011. He made his MLB debut with New York the next April. The Mets non-tendered Hefner in late 2013 after his first Tommy John surgery but re-signed him for the 2014 season. He became a free agent again that fall, but was not under contract during 2015.

With St. Louis’ top three reserve starters all being left-handed (Marco Gonzales, Tyler Lyons and Tim Cooney), the addition of Hefner gives the Cardinals a right-handed option at Triple-A Memphis – if he is fully recovered.

Update: Hefner has received a non-roster invitation to major league spring training camp, according to a later story from the Post-Dispatch.

Brito, 22, originally signed with St. Louis in May 2010 from Venezuela. The left-hander has been a reliever for almost his entire career, starting with the 2010 Venezuelan Summer League Cardinals. He pitched in the Dominican Summer League the next two seasons before moving to the Gulf Coast League in 2013. That season, the 5-foot-11, 170-pounder also made his first appearance in the Appalachian League, his primary home for the last three summers.

Having never advanced as far as State College in six seasons apparently signaled the end of Brito’s Cardinals career. He finished with a 2.88 ERA to go with nine wins, eight losses and 27 saves in 184 1/3 innings over 103 appearances. Brito fanned 195, but also walked 90.

For more roster detail

Remember that to see the entire Cardinals system from the Dominican Summer League to St. Louis in one graphical view with all transactions, free agents and more, check out the Roster Matrix, kept updated at The Cardinal Nation Blog.

Special for The Cardinal Nation members: Cardinals Winter League Notebook 17: DR/MX/COL/PN

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2015 The Cardinal Nation, and All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories