A new beginning or a soon-to-be-forgotten coda to a great career? No one knows yet, but next month former Cy Young Award winner and six-time All-Star Félix Hernández will break camp with the Atlanta Braves. He signed a minor league deal with an invitation to big league camp the with club yesterday.
King Félix endured his third straight below league average season in 2019, and last year was particularly ghastly for him on the mound, posting a 6.40 ERA in 15 starts. While he’s still only 33, Hernández came up for good at 19 and was a full-time starter at 20, so there are a lot of miles on that elbow, that shoulder, and those legs. Smart money would not have him returning to his old form or anything particularly close to it in the future. Smart money may even be laid on the idea that he’s, frankly, done as a pitcher.
But he’ll get one more crack at it at least, as he’ll try to make a Braves club which seems to have a good number of pitchers who stand a much, much better chance than he does of landing on the big league staff. Still. Hernández is a legend, and you take a no-risk chance on a legend if you have the opportunity to do so.
Whether that chance turns out to be a memorable, late-career mini renaissance or the baseball equivalent of Johnny Unitas playing for the San Diego Chargers remains to be seen.