Félix Hernández, the once dominant pitcher for the Seattle Mariners, won’t be adding to his legacy with the Orioles. After compiling a 7.94 ERA in three starts, the last of which ended when Hernández acknowledged discomfort in his right elbow after pitching one inning against the Tampa Bay Rays on March 16th, the right-hander elected to opt out of his minor league contract with the Orioles.
The news was first reported by MLB Network’s Jon Heyman and confirmed by an industry source.
Hernández, who will turn 35 on April 8th, showed reduced velocity in his three starts but still appeared to have a strong chance to make the team until his injury.
The Orioles have already announced their first three starters — John Means, Matt Harvey and Bruce Zimmermann. It’s likely that Dean Kremer and Jorge López will be the other two in a five-man rotation to start the 2021 season that begins on Thursday against the Boston Red Sox.
Hernández would have made $1 million this season if he had made the team. He threw a bullpen session last week, manager Brandon Hyde said, and was playing catch to maintain his arm strength.
Hernández was one of three veteran starters to sign minor league contracts with the Orioles. Harvey, whose contract was purchased last week, and Wade LeBlanc, who opted out on Thursday before returning Friday on a major league contract, were the others. It’s likely LeBlanc will start the season in a long relief role.
Hernández’s opt-out leaves the Orioles with 35 players in camp. One of those, outfielder DJ Stewart, probably will start the season on the 10-day injured list because of a hamstring injury.