The Tampa Bay Rays are typically an intelligent organization, so when news comes down the pipe that they’ve signed a free agent pitcher, one generally expects that the pitcher will succeed. After all, this is a team that has consistently re-vitalized the careers of relievers like Kyle Farnsworth and Fernando Rodney. If there is a guy who other teams don’t want, he can usually thrive in Tampa Bay.
Sooner or later, all that success may go to their heads, which would be one explanation for why they agreed to give right handed Roberto Hernandez a free agent contract worth at least $3.2 million, with another $1.8 possible through incentives. Actually, that sounds like a decent deal for the franchise’s all-time saves leader, but that Hernandez is on the Hall of Fame ballot and this Hernandez is the former Fausto Carmona and hasn’t had a good season since 2007, when the elder Hernandez was the then-Carmona’s teammate with the Indians.
This Hernandez made just three appearances for Cleveland at the tail end of August season and was horrendous, going 0-3 with a 7.55 ERA before succumbing to an ankle injury that shelved him for the final six weeks of the year. In 2011, he wasn’t significantly better. That year Hernandez was 7-15 with a 5.25 ERA in 32 starts.
He hasn’t worked in relief since his rookie season in 2006, but Tampa Bay is apparently open to using him in that role while also considering him as a starter. The language in his deal with the Rays includes incentives based upon innings pitched, but also on relief appearances.
Joe Maddon and Jim Hickey have fixed a lot of hurlers whose careers have gone astray, but they may have bitten off more than they can chew here. I can’t image why any team would have offered this guy much more than a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training.