ATLANTA -- Félix Hernández will have a chance to extend his career when he comes to Spring Training attempting to win a spot in the Braves’ starting rotation.
The Braves have signed Hernández to a Minor League deal that includes an invitation to big league Spring Training, the team announced Wednesday. The 2010 American League Cy Young Award winner will draw a $1 million salary if he is added to Atlanta’s 40-man roster, a source told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi. Hernández was among 26 non-roster invitees to Braves camp, including both of the club’s first-round Draft picks in 2019, catcher Shea Langeliers and infielder Braden Shewmake.
Hernández earned six All-Star selections while producing an AL-best 2.83 ERA over the 230 starts made for the Mariners from 2009-15. The 33-year-old right-hander posted a 3.83 ERA in 2016. But he lost his elite status while constructing a 5.42 ERA over just 60 appearances (59 starts) over the past three seasons.
Multiple injuries have plagued Hernández over the past few years. He missed two months in 2017 with right shoulder inflammation and was sidelined for three months this past summer with a right shoulder strain. His decline led him to be briefly moved to Seattle’s bullpen in 2018.
This is a no-risk signing for the Braves, who currently have Mike Soroka, Max Fried, Mike Foltynewicz and Cole Hamels projected to fill the first four spots of their rotation. Hernández, Sean Newcomb and Kyle Wright currently stand as the top candidates to open the season as Atlanta’s fifth starter.
There is still a chance the Braves will attempt to add another veteran starter before the season begins. If Newcomb does not earn a rotation spot, he could return to the bullpen, where he started to show promise last year.
Should Hernández make the Braves’ roster, circle the weekend of May 29-31. That’s when Atlanta travels to Seattle, setting up a potential reunion between King Félix and his former club.