The Tampa Bay Rays signed former Cleveland Indians right-hander Roberto Hernandez. The 32 year-old Hernandez received $3.25
million plus $1.825 million in incentives. Hernandez had spent all seven years in the Majors with the Indians. Though he finished fourth in the American League CY Young race in 2007 and was an All-Star in 2010, his career has been spinning downward ever since. About a year ago Hernandez was arrested by the Dominican Republic police on false identity charges. Hernandez was going by Fausto Carmona; he also claimed to be three years younger than his actual ages. The woman who created a fake birth certificate for Hernandez to obtain a visa to play in the United States was never paid by Hernandez’s father. The chargers were dropped after he completed a work program but he was still suspended by Major League Baseball for three weeks. In August 2012, he sprained his ankle and missed the rest of the year. In his three starts in 2012, he went 0-3 with an ERA of 7.53. The Rays are known as being a place for pitchers to restart their careers (relief pitcher Rafael Soriano went on to pitch for the Yankees while relief pitcher Fernando Rodney made history for having the lowest ERA) so it is possible for Hernandez to get his career back on track.
The question now is where Hernandez will be pitching – as a starter or a relief pitcher. He has not pitched as a relief pitcher since 2006. Executive vice president Andrew Friedman says he will be used as a starter during spring training and at the end, they will decide though there is a good chance that Hernandez will be starting pitcher #5. At the moment the Rays have seven pitchers going for the 5-man starting rotation, besides Hernandez there is David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Jeff Niemann, Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, and Chris Archer. Price, Hellickson, Niemann, and Moore should be in the rotation, meaning it’s between Cobb, Archer, and Hernandez. Since Cobb and Archer are still young, veteran Hernandez will probably be pitcher #5. Rays also need Niemann to be healthy since his injuries made him miss majority of the 2012 season. Hernandez has experience and has pitched 200-plus innings twice; something the Rays need since James Shields is now gone. Hernandez’s current record is 53-69 with a 4.64 ERA – though one must remember he was with the Cleveland Indians, a team that has failed to have a winning record for a while.