Things are finally heating up at MLB’s Winter Meetings. Could a former Cy Young winner who is drawing interest be on the Brewers’ radar?
Now this is what we’ve all been waiting for. After an offseason that has been slow to develop with deals for any team, let alone the Brewers, the first two days of MLB’s Winter Meetings have featured some rumors across the league as well as some signings that have been announced.
On day one, starting pitcher Lance Lynn, a Cy Young candidate the last two years, was traded to the Chicago White Sox in a package that included one of their top prospects. Then today, potential Brewers free agent target, first baseman Carlos Santana, signed a two-year deal with the Royals.
But Milwaukee still has a chance to fill some positions before Winter Meetings are done and while corner infield is considered chief among them, the team could also use an extra starter or bullpen arm (or two). That’s why one of today’s rumors per MLB Network insider Jon Heyman is particularly interesting.
Despite being a Cy Young winner and finishing in the top ten for the award five other times, Felix Hernandez has looked far from his old self the last few years. But if the price is right, why not see if there is some of that old magic left in the tank?
The Brewers have given minor league deals to starters with something to prove before, so why not try it with a former Cy Young Winner like Felix Hernandez?
The resume for “King Felix” speaks for itself. He has a career 3.42 ERA over 15 seasons, all as a Seattle Mariner, 169 total wins, led the AL in WHIP and wins once, ERA twice, and hits per nine innings three times.
But his final three seasons in Seattle showed that age was starting to set in. From 2017 to 2019, Hernandez went 15-27 with a 5.42 ERA and a 1.401 WHIP. In two of those seasons, he failed to appear in more than 16 games due to injuries.
Looking to show he still had what it took to be a starter, Hernandez signed a one-year minor league deal with the Atlanta Braves last offseason with an invitation to Spring Training. After giving up just three earned runs over 13 2/3 innings with 14 strikeouts to five walks in the spring, it was beginning to look like a bounce back season might be in store.
But then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and players were given the opportunity to opt out of the 2020 season if they wished. Hernandez ended up being one of those players to opt out, never pitching a regular season game for the Braves.
Now Hernandez is again a free agent with multiple teams interested in his services. Should he be willing to accept a minor league deal once again, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Brewers make a move, especially considering their recent history with players on minor league deals.
Over the last two seasons, the Brewers have given chances to veterans like starters Shelby Miller and Drew Smyly as well as first baseman Logan Morrison, among others, by signing them to minor league deals. Morrison even ended up making the team’s Opening Day roster in 2020.
It would be the ultimate low risk, high reward to do the same with Hernandez. If it works, you have a former Cy Young winner in your rotation. If not, it’s easy to move in a different direction.
The Brewers aren’t guaranteed to pick up a starter this offseason, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have an extra one around. So why not make it one with a Cy Young award on his resume?