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Arizona Diamondbacks 2017-18 free agents: David Hernandez

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The former Diamondback returned at the trade deadline. Would we want him to stick around next year?

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Arizona Diamondbacks Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

David Hernandez originally came to Arizona in December 2010, as part of the return from the Baltimore Orioles for Mark Reynolds. He spent the next five years with the Diamoindbacks, though missed the entire 2014 season, and part of the following year, after undergoing Tommy John surgery in April 2014. Overall, he appeared in 248 games with Arizona, and put up a decent ERA+ of 113. However, the Diamondbacks opted to let Hernandez go as a free-agent at the end of 2015. He signed a one-year deal with the Phillies: while he lost his closer’s job there after an ugly start, he rebounded to post a solid 2016 overall, appearing in 70 games for them, with an ERA+ of 109.

This year was a nomadic one for Hernandez, as he was part of four different organizations. He initially signed with the San Francisco Giants, but they released him late in spring training. Two days later, he joined the Atlanta Braves, though wasn’t able to crack their Opening Day roster. Three weeks into the season, Hernandez was on the move again, having been traded to the Angels for a player to be named later. LA were thin in relief due to injury. He had an excellent first half, with a 2.23 ERA over 38 appearances, and his FIP was even better, at 1.86. At the trade deadline, he was dealt back to the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor-league pitcher Luis Madero.

Hernandez’s numbers weren’t as shiny after the trade, mostly due to the long-ball. He had not allowed a home-run over 36.1 innings with the Angels; he gave up four in only 18.2 innings here. But he also had a very good K:BB ratio of 15:1 for Arizona, and was one of only two D-backs pitchers (along with fellow impending free-agent Jorge De La Rosa) not to allow a run in the post-season. In 2017, Hernandez threw a total of 55 innings in the regular campaign, plus 1.2 in the playoffs. His overall ERA across both was 3.02, with a K:BB of 53:9. His salary was $535,000 this season.

Is he needed in 2018?

There will likely always be a need for bullpen arms. The D-backs will potentially be losing a lot of relievers this winter. As well as Hernandez and De La Rosa, Fernando Rodney and Tom Wilhelmsen will also be free-agents, and there are question marks over some of the players eligible for arbitration, such as T.J. McFarland and J.J. Hoover. While Mike Hazen seemed to demonstrate a decent talent for dumpster diving last winter, the volatility of relievers is real, and past performance is no guarantee of future success from players.

That said, got to love a regular season K:BB ratio near six. It put Hernandez in the top ten among all 156 relievers to pitch 50+ innings this season, and his 2.76 FIP was just out of the top twenty. I’m not sure if it’s sustainable, considering his career figure from 2009-16 was 2.39. However, looking at the pitch f/X data, Hernandez seems to have added a cutter to his repertoire this year, while his curve-ball has generated swings and misses at an extremely high rate (almost 25%). That suggests he might be a pitcher whose performance could exceed his cost in 2018. Having earned little more than league minimum last year, he should still be fairly cheap. Worth a look, I’d say.

Alternatives

Unsurprisingly, the list of other right-handed relievers available in free agency this winter is a long one. From MLB Trade Rumors, here are the names, ages in 2018 and, if appropriate, options. Anyone else you think it’s worth the Diamondbacks kicking the tires on? Quite a few former Arizona pitchers present, I see. Even beyond the ones we’re losing imminently, we could put together a full bullpen: Albers, Boyer, Cahill, Collmenter, Clippard, Qualls, Reed and Shaw.

  • Matt Albers (35)
  • John Axford (35)
  • Tony Barnette (34) — $4MM club option with a $250K buyout
  • Matt Belisle (38)
  • Joaquin Benoit (40)
  • Christian Bergman (30)
  • Mike Bolsinger (30)
  • Blaine Boyer (36)
  • Trevor Cahill (30)
  • Jesse Chavez (34)
  • Josh Collmenter (32)
  • Tyler Clippard (33)
  • Steve Cishek (32)
  • Wade Davis (32)
  • Neftali Feliz (30)
  • Dillon Gee (32)
  • Jeanmar Gomez (30)
  • Luke Gregerson (34)
  • Jason Grilli (41)
  • Yoshihisa Hirano (34)
  • Greg Holland (32)
  • Tommy Hunter (31)
  • Craig Kimbrel (30) — $13MM club option with a $1MM buyout
  • Brandon Kintzler (33)
  • Seth Maness (29)
  • Chris Martin (32)
  • Dustin McGowan (36)
  • Brandon Morrow (33)
  • Jason Motte (36)
  • Peter Moylan (39)
  • Pat Neshek (37)
  • Juan Nicasio (31)
  • Bud Norris (33)
  • Seung-hwan Oh (35)
  • Kevin Quackenbush (29)
  • Chad Qualls (39)
  • Addison Reed (29)
  • Fernando Rodney (41)
  • Francisco Rodriguez (36)
  • Sergio Romo (35)
  • Fernando Salas (33)
  • Rob Scahill (31)
  • Bryan Shaw (30)
  • Joe Smith (34)
  • Craig Stammen (34)
  • Drew Storen (30)
  • Huston Street (34) — $10MM club option with a $1MM buyout
  • Anthony Swarzak (32)
  • Koji Uehara (43)
  • Tom Wilhelmsen (34)
  • Asher Wojciechowski (29)
  • Chris Young (39)