Thursday, December 12, 2013


By DENNIS DEITCH, @DennisDeitch

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The Phillies did not leave the Winter Meetings empty-handed.

The question is whether they left with a hand much better than the one with which they arrived.

Although the organization wasn’t ready to make it official, a source confirmed a report by that the Phillies have agreed to a one-year contract with right-hander Roberto Hernandez, who spent most of last season in the Tampa Rays’ starting rotation.

In 24 starts with the Rays last season, Hernandez was 6-13 with a 4.98 ERA before he was moved to the bullpen when Matt Moore came off the disabled list in late August.

Until January 2012, Hernandez was known as Fausto Carmona. That was when a bizarre arrest in the Dominican Republic took place that led to revelations that his family had changed his age and identity as a youth. The legal trouble and a three-week suspension levied by MLB over the controversy cost the then-Cleveland pitcher most of the 2012 season. It also revealed he was three years older than believe. Hernandez’s listed age is 33.

After the Phillies selected Arizona minor-league reliever Kevin Munson in the Rule 5 draft, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. spoke vaguely about Hernandez without naming him.

“We’ve gotten close to acquiring a starter to give us a little bit of depth,” Amaro said. “We’ll see. We’re still working on it. Hopefully within the next week we’ll be able to get something done.

“It’s someone who will join our rotation … more of a depth guy, someone who can slide into the bottom of our rotation. We need some depth. We’re trying to get the best bang for our buck, and in this marketplace, it’s tough because the prices have soared significantly.”

The money wasn’t stated, but Hernandez made $3.25 million last season, so the figure should be in the $4 million range. The Phillies have about $10 million remaining in their budget, although there remains plenty of time to make a trade and change that dynamic.

Until a trade can drop, however, Amaro thinks this might be the last 40-man roster addition he makes as far as starting pitchers go. The Phillies’ rotation at the moment consists of Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick, Hernandez and either Jonathan Pettibone or Cuban signee Miguel Gonzalez.

“I don’t know if we’ll be adding another guy,” Amaro said. “We've talked internally about some of our options. We’ll likely have Pettibone and Ethan Martin stretched out. Hopefully that will create enough depth for us. We’re going to try to continue to look for some depth there.”

Hernandez’s best season was his first full season in the Indians’ rotation in 2007, when he went 19-8 with a 3.06 ERA and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting. In the six seasons since, he is 39-64 with a 5.03 ERA.

Amaro hinted that he didn’t think Hernandez’s talent was as far removed from some of the pitchers commanding $10 million-plus per season on the free-agent market.

“Some of the big names, for us, are probably more names than they are talent,” he said. “… what they are seeking, I don’t think it matches up with the level of talent. That’s my take on it.”

The Phillies also added Munson into the fold. The right-hander, who turns 25 in January, was 2-4 with a 4.12 ERA and 14 saves in 53 games between Double- and Triple-A for the Diamondbacks last season. Although he had a 5.09 ERA during his stint with Triple-A Reno, it is a notoriously hitter-friendly stop in the Pacific Coast League, and his other numbers (27 strikeouts, seven walks in 23 innings) led the Phillies to believe he could be ready to compete in the majors.

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