Felix Hernandez Signs Minor League Contract With Atlanta

Felix Hernandez
SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 15: Starting pitcher Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates after throwing a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Safeco Field on August 15, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Felix Hernandez Signs Minor League Contract With Atlanta

The historic career of Felix Hernandez continues on as he officially inked a minor league contract with the Atlanta Braves.

Per Jon Heyman, the six-time All-Star signed his contract worth $1 million and included an invitation to spring training. The invitation will be a chance to prove that the 33-year old still has what it takes as a non-roster invitee.

The King’s Reign

From his beginnings out of Venezuela and arriving in the major leagues in 2002, Hernandez has been amazing fans for 15 years. It was a short trip through the minor leagues for Hernandez before making the big dance. He became the first teenager since Jose Rijo to make a start in the majors.

The king truly did reign and did it well from 2006-2015. The former Seattle Mariner was the best pitcher during that time frame with a WAR mark of 50.1 while winning the 2010 AL Cy Young Award. He was perhaps one of the more consistent pitchers, finding dominance across the majority of his 2,178 innings pitched during that same time frame. That mark led all MLB pitchers. Hernandez also ranked 16th in ERA (3.13) during that same ten-year span. Hernandez also produced a 54 percent ground ball rate, ranking 21st among all major league starting pitchers.

The Hesitation 

Even with his ten-year reign that Hernandez posted, all those innings have taken a toll on the King. The last three seasons, in particular, hasn’t been very king-like. Since 2017, Hernandez has eclipsed 100 innings just once. Since the start of 2018, Hernandez’s ERA has swelled to 5.82. In 2019 The King threw a career-low 71 innings with a 6.40 ERA to accompany.

Over the last four seasons, Hernandez gave up 1.38 HR per nine innings and a 17.1 percent home run rate off of his fastballs, the highest marks across a four-year span for Hernandez.

This could be the comeback Hernandez needs but no matter what, it’s a low-risk opportunity for the Braves. Should they get vintage Felix Hernandez back, it will be on a very team-friendly deal. Also, Hernandez could benefit from playing in a league where he does not have to face the designated hitter. Should they watch Hernandez continue to suffer, it’s hardly a financial burden. It’s a feel-good story in the making that could benefit all in baseball.

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