It was just last January that Fernandez signed a minor league deal with a $200K signing bonus, ending a rather prolonged stretch in free agency following the second baseman’s escape from Cuba in December 2015. While Fernandez posted some very good batting numbers in Cuba’s Serie Nacional (.319/.403/.423 in 2580 career plate appearances), he also hadn’t played since 2014, which unsurprisingly led to some rust during showcase appearances for scouts.
Still, there was some thought that L.A. had scored a bargain when they inked Fernandez, as he was seen by some as a player who was ready for a relatively quick promotion to the big leagues. Indeed, his performance in 2017 seemingly did little to shake that assessment, as Fernandez hit .306/.366/.498 over 369 PA for Double-A Tulsa. Fernandez continued to display good contact skills with just 33 strikeouts (against 24 walks), and he hit 16 homers at the Double-A level — a nice power increase considering he only hit 37 homers total in all his time in the Serie Nacional.
Fernandez didn’t play after July 29 due to a DL stint, and unless that injury was something particularly serious, his release seems rather surprising. Even if the Dodgers faced a roster crunch or simply didn’t see Fernandez as a long-term piece, one would think a trade would’ve come before an outright release (though the Dodgers might’ve quietly shopped him and found no takers). Still, given the relatively low price Fernandez cost Los Angeles in the first place, the Dodgers might’ve felt they weren’t losing out on much by releasing him.
The 29-year-old Fernandez now figures to get some attention on the free agent market, particularly from teams in need of middle infield help. Fernandez has spent much of his career at second base, though he also has a handful of games at first base, third base and in left field.