D-backs ink reliever Hernandez to 2-year deal
JUN 24, 2012 6:16p ET
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Hernandez, 27, would have been arbitration eligible for the first time following this season after making just under $500,000 this year.
"I've heard horror stories about going through arbitration, so it's just good that the Diamondbacks organization could get something done so I won't have to worry about it for at least two more years," Hernandez said. "It feels good to get something done."
Hernandez said both sides had discussions heading into the season about getting a deal done, but things picked up in the past couple weeks. Asked what he likes about playing in Arizona, the right-hander replied "Everything."
"I could see myself living here one day past baseball," Hernandez said. "I'm definitely grateful to the organization, and hopefully I'll be here well after two years."
Hernandez came to the D-backs before last season when the team traded Mark Reynolds to the Orioles. Hernandez was a starter in Baltimore but slid into a setup role in front of D-backs closer J.J. Putz last season. Posting 3.38 ERA, Hernandez notched 23 holds and 11 saves as the D-backs won the NL West. His saves, 74 appearances and 77 strikeouts were career highs.
"He's been dominant for us," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He's just got a golden arm, and we believe in him. We believe in what he can do in the future."
With Putz now 35 years old and laboring a bit this season after collecting 45 saves last year, Hernandez figures to be the closer in waiting. Putz has a $6.5 million team option for next season, and the D-backs could choose to instead pay his $1.5 million buyout and hand closer role to Hernandez.
Hernandez praised Putz's role in his development as a reliever and wasn't about to step in the incumbent closer's toes.
"I think that's in everybody's mind as a reliever -- everybody wants to be a closer," Hernandez said. "You've kind of just got to wait your turn."
This season Hernandez has pitched 31 innings over 33 appearances and posted a 2.90 ERA. He collected his second save of the season against the Cubs on Friday and also got his first hit in four career at-bats and first by a D-backs reliever since 2003.
"It's just been a good couple days, I guess, getting my first hit and now a two-year contract," Hernandez said.