The Nationals are selecting the contract of outfielder Yadiel Hernandez after placing veteran Howie Kendrick on the injured list yesterday, manager Dave Martinez announced to reporters today (Twitter link via Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post). The team’s recent DFA of Wilmer Difo left them with a vacancy on the 40-man roster.
Whenever Hernandez gets into a game, it’ll mark the MLB debut for the 32-year-old. A high-quality performer for los Cocodrilos de Matnzas in the Cuban National Series from 2009-14, Hernandez defected from Cuba back in 2015 and began the lengthy process of establishing himself as a free agent for Major League clubs. He signed with the Nats for $200K more than a year after leaving Cuba and spent the 2017-19 seasons climbing through their minor league system.
That rise through the Nats’ farm included a monstrous .324/.406/.604 showing in Triple-A last year (139 wRC+), during which Hernandez slugged 33 homers, 22 doubles and a triple while going 7-for-12 in stolen base attempts. We don’t see too many soon-to-be 33-year-old rookies of note, but Hernandez has performed at a high level in Cuba’s top league and throughout three full minor league seasons, so he’ll carry a bit more intrigue than the standard journeyman receiving a September cup of coffee.