According to Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the 21-year-old received a $145,000 raise on Saturday, which sounds incredible in the real world, but isn’t too bad in the baseball world either considering his age and experience level.
Then, on Sunday morning, Marlins manager Mike Redmond officially promoted Fernandez to opening day starter against the Colorado Rockies on March 31.
The raise, in particular, is noteworthy for one very obvious reason. The Marlins are notorious for cutting corners financially. If they can save a buck or borrow one, that's the direction they tend to go. The philosophy only changes when owner Jeffrey Loria has something to prove... or sell to the public. In this case, though, they did go a little above what was required in compensating Fernandez.
In his NL Rookie of the Year campaign last season, Fernandez earned $490,000. In his second season, the Marlins were only required to renew his contract at or around the league minimum of $500,000 since he's still in his pre-arbitration years. Instead, they've agreed to pay him $635,000, which doesn't quite match the $1 million Mike Trout received from the Los Angeles Angels earlier this week, but it's still a nice reward for a stellar rookie season.
It's also a show of good faith that may or may not work out for them when larger scale negotiations take place down the road. After all, it will still require big, big money to lock up Fernandez long term. The goodwill here will only go so far.
The Marlins also tipped their cap to Fernandez by naming him their opening starter, but that was pretty much a foregone conclusion entering camp. He more than earned the honor by going 12-6 with a minuscule 2.19 ERA last season. His 187 strikeouts over 172 2/3 innings were pretty impressive too. All of those numbers could improve this season depending on how flexible Miami is with their innings limit.
Mike Axisa of Eye on Baseball also notes that Fernandez (21 years, 274 days old) will be the youngest opening day starter in Marlins history, besting Josh Beckett (22 years, 320 days) in 2003. He's also the youngest opening day starter in MLB since Felix Hernandez (20 years, 359 days) got the call for Seattle in 2007.
That's a lot of good stuff to add on the résumé at 21, but if all goes as planned for Fernandez they will merely be footnotes in a much bigger biography.
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