Mariners legend Felix Hernandez may have taken the ball for the last time as a member of the organization on Thursday. In what seems likely to go down as his goodbye to the M’s franchise, King Felix threw 5 1/3 innings of three-run ball against the Athletics before an emotionally charged exit from the field in Seattle.
Even though Hernandez’s phenomenal tenure as a Mariner may have just drawn to a close, the right-hander hopes his career hasn’t. Hernandez told Greg Johns of MLB.com and other reporters after the game that his goal is to pitch in 2020.
“We’ll see if I can find a job. I’m not retiring,” the 33-year-old said.
For the extreme majority of his career, it would have been ludicrous to wonder if Hernandez was capable of landing a job in the majors. Unfortunately, though, that’s no longer the case for the longtime ace, six-time All-Star and one-time AL Cy Young winner.
Hernandez inked his current contract – the seven-year, $175MM extension he signed in 2013 – at the height of his powers, but injuries and the significant amount of mileage on his arm have taken their toll over the past couple seasons. In fact, since 2018, no starter with at least 200 innings has posted a worse ERA (5.84) or a higher FIP (5.41) than Hernandez. He ran up an even uglier 6.40 ERA/6.01 FIP across 71 2/3 innings this season, during which shoulder problems kept him out from the first half of May until the second half of August.
Based on the rough turn Hernandez’s production has taken of late, it appears the pending free agent will be in line for a minor league contract in the offseason (if anyone signs him, that is). But if Thursday proves to be the final time Hernandez takes a major league mound, it’ll count as one of the most memorable sendoffs the game has seen in recent history.