The Philadelphia Phillies have announced the signing of free agent relief pitcher David Hernandez.
Hernandez, formerly of the Baltimore Orioles and Arizona Diamondbacks, signed a one-year contract rumored to be for $3.9 million and including incentives for games finished with the Phillies. He will come to spring training as one of the clear front-runners now in the battle for spots in the team’s bullpen.
The 30-year old righthander has pitched parts of six seasons in Major League Baseball, beginning as a starter back in the 2009 season with Baltimore. The Orioles began converting him to the bullpen in 2010, and then traded him to Arizona in December of 2010 in exchange for slugger Mark Reynolds.
With the DBacks, Hernandez blossomed into a primary bullpen piece before succumbing to Tommy John surgery and missing the entire 2014 season, as well as much of the first half of the 2015 season.
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In parts of four years with Arizona he tossed 233.2 innings over 248 appearances, allowing just 180 hits, with a 274/87 K:BB ratio. Prior to the surgery, Hernandez was becoming one of the top righty setup relievers in the game.
The Phillies are hoping that he fully rebounds to that pre-2014 performance level. Nearly two years removed from the actual surgery, that is a reasonable expectation. Should he prove valuable again, he could become a trade chip prior to the July deadline.
Talk at baseball’s Winter Meetings in Nashville remains active that GM Matt Klentak is continuing to explore the free agent market for a veteran starting pitcher. I speculated yesterday that the club could look at either Mat Latos or Tim Lincecum. You can now add former Nationals’ starter Doug Fister to the list of pitchers being linked to the club.