Seattle Mariners: Felix Hernandez isn’t hanging up the cleats just yet

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 26: Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners reacts after giving up a solo home run to Marcus Semien #10 of the Oakland Athletics in the first inning during their game at Safeco Field on September 26, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 26: Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners reacts after giving up a solo home run to Marcus Semien #10 of the Oakland Athletics in the first inning during their game at Safeco Field on September 26, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /
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Multiple teams are reportedly interested in former Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, who sat out the 2020 season.

His professional career began all the way back in 2002 as a 16-year-old kid out of Venezuela. Described as a “chubby” yet “confident” international pitching prospect, Felix Hernandez would quickly develop into a phenom prospect, the type that doesn’t come around very often for an organization.

Fast forward to the end of the 2019 season and it’s safe to say that Felix Hernandez lived up to all the hype that surrounded him as an up-and-coming prospect in the Seattle Mariners system.

For 15 seasons, Hernandez remained dedicated to the Mariners and their fanbase, love and dedication that was reciprocated every step of the way.

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Despite never pitching in a single playoff game, Hernandez won a Cy Young Award in 2010, leading the league with a 2.27 ERA through 249.2 innings and logging a career-high six complete games and made six All-Star games across a seven-year span, with his 2010 Cy Young season being the only year from 2009-2015 in which he didn’t pitch in the Mid-Summer Classic.

Going into the 2020 season, Felix Hernandez attempted to do something he had never done in his MLB career, pitch for a team that wasn’t the Seattle Mariners.

Signed to a minor league deal by the Atlanta Braves to compete for a backend rotation spot, Hernandez pitched very well in spring training. In four spring starts, Hernandez struck out 14 across 13.2 innings, posting a 1.98 ERA and 1.32 WHIP.

But then COVID-19 struck and Felix Hernandez decided to sit out the 2020 season. Having not pitched in a regular season game since September 26th of 2019 and approaching 35 years of age, Hernandez isn’t ready to give up the dream quite yet.

According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, multiple teams are interested in signing Felix Hernandez this offseason as the market for starting pitching remains active and is expected to remain hot as the 2020 Winter Meetings continue to roll on, virtually this year.

With multiple teams slashing payroll and looking for low-risk flyers to add to their pitching depth, someone is sure to sign King Felix to an incentive-laden minor league deal, with plenty of rebuilding teams likely interest in his services, if Hernandez is willing to take on that role.

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Having never reached the MLB playoffs, it’s reasonable to assume he would want to catch on with a contender, even if it meant a reduced role.