Felix Hernandez, Orioles Reportedly Agree to $1M Minor League Contract

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 4, 2021

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 26: Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners walks off the field after pitching in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at T-Mobile Park on September 26, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)
Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

Felix Hernandez agreed to a minor league deal worth $1 million with the Baltimore Orioles, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman.

While Hernandez didn't lay out a plan to exit after the 2019 season, it carried a level of finality for the 34-year-old right-hander since he was in the final year of his contract with the Seattle Mariners.

As the regular season was drawing to a close, he indicated he was hopeful of returning for another year but acknowledged the interest from MLB teams would have to be there. He signed a $1 million deal as a non-roster invitee for the Atlanta Braves, but he opted out of the 2020 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hernandez made 15 appearances for the Mariners in his swan song with the franchise. He finished 1-8 with a 6.40 ERA and a 6.00 FIP, per FanGraphs. It was the fifth straight season in which his FIP climbed from the year before (5.18 in 2018).

With King Felix a shadow of his old self, the writing was on the wall. But that didn't make the end any easier to absorb. An emotional Hernandez received a standing ovation at T-Mobile Park in his final start on Sept. 26, 2019.

He clearly believes he has something left in the tank, and joining the Orioles should present him with a good opportunity to pitch his way into an MLB rotation again.

Baltimore has gone four seasons without making the playoffs, and the team shipped one of its more experienced starters, Alex Cobb, to the Los Angeles Angels.

If Hernandez works out, then the Orioles could have themselves a solid trade asset. If this is effectively the end of the road for him, then the organization won't be out much.