2021 MLB Hot Stove: King Felix Goes with the O’s

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The Orioles made a minor MLB hot stove splash by signing former Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez to a minor league deal on a deal worth up to one million dollars. While King Felix was once one of the dominant pitchers in baseball, injuries have led to a sharp decline for the former Mariners ace.

2021 MLB Hot Stove: Former Cy Young

It wasn’t that long ago that Hernandez was one of the very best pitchers in the game. Unfortunately, playing on struggling Mariners teams led him to only accumulating 169 wins; however, his 2.92 ERA between 2009 and 2016 made him a perennial Cy Young winner.

Hernandez would edge out David Price and CC Sabathia for the 2010 Cy Young award. That year, Hernandez would post 13 wins to 12 losses, with a 2.27 ERA and 232 strikeouts, one behind Jared Weaver for the most in the American League. While he would never win another Cy Young award, he would have five additional top-ten finishes.

Sadly for King Felix, he was part of some very bad Mariners teams that frequently relied on their Ace to win important ballgames. During his time with the Seattle Mariners, the team would never qualify for the playoffs or win more than 89 games in a season. Meanwhile, Hernandez would throw over 190 innings for 10 consecutive seasons.

Hernandez would also enter MLB history books on August 15th, 2012 by throwing a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

2021 MLB Hot Stove: End of an Era

Sadly, injuries started to take a toll on the former King of Seattle. Hernandez would never throw more than 160 innings due to a series of should and arm injuries. As the Mariners entered another rebuild the team made the decision not to resign Hernandez following the 2019 season.

Hernandez was part of the MLB hot stove last year when he signed a one-year deal to join the Atlanta Braves, however, he would opt out of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic and will be entering this year a full season removed from his last start.

2021 MLB Hot Stove: Why Baltimore Did It

As the Orioles prepare for the 2021 season, the team has very few options in the pitching rotation. After former All-Star John Means, the rest of the rotation is filled with holes and question marks.

Meanwhile, the team recently traded veteran pitcher Alex Cobb to the Angels while boosting the farm system. While the trade did bring in a top Angels prospect, it did leave additional holes for the big league roster.

When evaluating this trade, the Orioles are taking a very low risk on a pitcher that is a shell of his former self. It is highly unlikely that Hernandez becomes an impactful pitcher this season in Baltimore, but the signing also is a very low risk. Worst case scenario, Hernandez is cut during or after Spring Training.

The best-case scenario for this MLB hot stove signing is that Hernandez can be a useful pitcher for the Orioles. If so, he can serve as a veteran mentor for the young pitching staff and become a useful trade chip at the deadline.

While it has been a few years, if Hernandez is able to capture any of his former glory this contract could be an absolute steal for the Orioles.

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Stephen Leonardi is a passionate Yankees, Jets, Devils and Nets fans. He is an avid writer covering his favorite teams and interesting topics around his favorite sports.