Phillies Sign Reliever David Hernandez

(Update: 7:05 PM EST)Per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the Phillies will pay Hernandez $3.9 million on a one-year deal.

David Hernandez missed the entire 2014 season due to Tommy John surgery and made his 2015 debut in June. He compiled a 4.28 ERA with solid peripherals, striking out 33 and walking 11 in 33 2/3 innings. He had a pair of terrific seasons with the Diamondbacks in 2011 and ’12 but has struggled since because he’s been prone to allowing home runs.

Hernandez, 30, used to be an extreme fly ball pitcher, but he has gradually increased his ground ball rate over the years. It was a meager 28-29 percent in his first two years in the big leagues but sat just below 40 percent last season. He is almost entirely fastball/slider, but has a scarcely-used change-up as well. Hernandez’s fastball sits in the mid-90’s while his slider is around 81-82 MPH. His peripherals are belied by his 4.15 career ERA, so it would not be shocking to see him quietly put up strong numbers out of the bullpen.

Unlike a lot of the Phillies’ free agent signings as of late, there are no real underpinnings to the Hernandez deal. Sure, they could flip him at the trade deadline if he pitches well in the first half of the 2016 campaign, but the Phillies just want him to soak up some innings in middle relief.

The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Doug Fister, which means he wouldn’t cost the Phillies draft pick compensation. The Phillies’ first-round pick is protected as a result of finishing with one of the ten worst records in baseball, but it’s nice to keep the second-round pick, too.

Fister is coming off of a dreadful year with the Nationals. He racked up only 103 innings as a result of a flexor tendon strain. Following a poor outing on August 3, which bumped his ERA up to 4.60, the Nationals moved him to the bullpen where he rediscovered success. The right-hander posted a 2.12 ERA with 15 strikeouts and six walks in 17 innings of relief.

Fister, who turns 32 in February, saw his velocity plummet due to his injury. Via Brooks Baseball:

Fister used to be a ground ball machine, but he is no longer. His ground ball rate has dropped from 54 percent in 2013 to 49 percent in 2014 to below 45 percent last season. His walk rate was also at its highest rate in four years and his strikeout rate was his lowest since 2010.

If the Phillies were a competitive team, Fister would be a poor fit. They just need a veteran starter who can soak up six innings. Fister, despite his injury, made it through six innings in 10 of his 15 starts for the Nationals in 2015. If he’s past his flexor tendon injury, he almost certainly would do so at a higher rate going forward. Innings are the number one priority for the Phillies when looking at veteran starters and relievers. But unlike the Hernandez signing, there would be the thought to trade Fister at the trade deadline if he happens to bounce back.

Nothing shocking here. We’ve been hearing Ken Giles rumors for quite some time and the Astros have shown by far the most interest in the hard-throwing right-hander. The Astros like Giles in particular because he’s young, cost-controlled, and won’t hit free agency for five more seasons. That privilege won’t come at a bargain.

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  1. Romus

    December 09, 2015 09:51 AM

    Good deal…if he regains his 2013 form…and TJ success have been the norm more then the abnormal of late.
    Doug Fister appears ready to sign on the dotted line also.
    Now come July he could be a another chip…more so then Aaron H, Jerome Williams and Chab B were

  2. Romus

    December 09, 2015 09:53 AM

    If Giles heads to Houston…have to think MacP/Klent will try to pry 2 or 3 of…. pitchers Appel, Martes, Musgrove, or OFers Cameron or Tucker.

    • Romus

      December 09, 2015 09:56 AM

      I assume signing Fister will cost the Phillies their 39th pick…so they end up with two picks of the top 78….1.1 and 3.77

      • Boats

        December 09, 2015 10:40 AM

        No, no QO for Fister, so he’s not tied to any compensation.

    • Sean f

      December 09, 2015 03:43 PM

      I want two to three high end prospects from the Astros. Hoped for McCullers, but that probably won’t happen. Giles for only one piece, no way.

  3. Keystone

    December 09, 2015 10:15 AM

    I’ll take A.J. Reed for Giles.

    • Romus

      December 09, 2015 10:18 AM

      Luhnow, I think, has him as an untouchable right now, since he is slated in 2016 sometime later to be up with the big club at first base

      • Bary Onyx

        December 09, 2015 03:41 PM

        can we get Domingo Santana back? 😀

      • Andrew Cleveland Alexander

        December 09, 2015 03:49 PM

        That might be hard for the Astros to deliver, since Santana is now with the Brewers.

  4. Timber

    December 09, 2015 03:39 PM

    Giles has five more seasons of team control, not three.

    • Bill Baer

      December 09, 2015 03:56 PM

      Oh yeah, you’re right. I was looking at the row underneath his name on Cot’s Contracts by accident. Thanks for pointing that out!

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