Friedman says RHP Hernandez a "risk-reward" signing with "really compelling" upside

Published Dec. 18, 2012

The Rays haven't decided whether newly-acquired righthander Roberto Hernandez - formerly known as Fausto Carmona - will be used as a starter or as a reliever.

But executive vice president Andrew Friedman said the veteran could compete for a spot in the rotation and - either way - could play a big role in their 2013 season.

Hernandez's one-year, $3.25 million deal (with $1.85 million in incentives) was officially announced Tuesday, with Tampa Bay hoping the former All-Star returns to old form under a new name.

"We feel like this is a one of those risk-reward stories that makes a lot of sense for us," Friedman said. "Upside is really compelling."

Hernandez is coming off a controversial, unproductive year with the Indians. He began the season on MLB's restricted list due to visa issues stemming from an offseason false-identity arrest in the Dominican Republic. After returning to the United States, he served a three-week suspension and was activated. A sprained right ankle on August 27 ended his season (0-3, 7.53 ERA).

Friedman said that, in many ways, 2012 was a "lost year" for Hernandez, but they're confident in his makeup and that he'd fit in "extremely well" in the Rays clubhouse. Hernandez brings experience, with the seven-year veteran making the All-Star team in 2010, when he was the Indians Opening Day starter.

His best season came in 2007, when he finished fourth in the AL Cy Young voting (19-8, 3.06 ERA). On the mound, Friedman cited Hernandez's ability to pitch 200-plus innings (twice in his seven-year career), and groundball ratio as strengths.

And with the Rays trading James Shields, a perennial 200-inning pitcher, and Wade Davis to the Royals, Friedman said accounting for the lost innings was "very much on our mind."

"This guy has got really good stuff," Friedman said. "The two-seamer, which he gets a lot of ground balls, slider, changeup. We feel like he has the repertoire to get out righthanded and left-handed hitters."