The Red Sox have traded reliever Darwinzon Hernandez to the Orioles in exchange for cash considerations, the club announced earlier Wednesday afternoon.
Hernandez, 26, was designated for assignment last Friday so that the Red Sox could clear a spot on their 40-man roster for newly signed infielder/designated hitter Justin Turner.
Boston originally signed Hernandez for just $7,500 as an international free agent coming out of Venezuela in July 2013. The Ciudad Bolivar native established himself as arguably the top pitching prospect in the Red Sox farm system before making his major-league debut at the age of 22 in April 2019.
Hernandez made one start for the Red Sox early on before moving to the bullpen on a full-time basis that July . The left-hander posted a 4.32 ERA — but much more respectable 2.81 FIP — with 46 strikeouts to 20 walks over 27 relief appearances (25 innings) from that point forward to wrap up what was an otherwise solid rookie campaign.
Injuries and a bout with COVID-19 limited Hernandez to just seven outings during the pandemic-shortened season in 2020. He bounced back by forging a 3.38 ERA (4.80 FIP) in 2021, but he did so while averaging exactly seven walks per nine innings.
This past spring, Hernandez failed to break camp with the Red Sox and instead began the 2022 season at Triple-A Worcester. The burly lefty was then forced to undergo surgery in May after suffering a torn right meniscus that kept him sidelined well into the summer. He made his return to the majors on July 14 got rocked for 16 earned runs in 6 2/3 innings (21.60 ERA) before being sent down in mid-August.
While with the WooSox last year, Hernandez produced a 5.73 ERA with 51 strikeouts to 27 walks over 23 appearances (seven starts) spanning 33 innings of work. He returned to his home country this offseason to play winter ball for the Cardenales de Lara. There, he pitched to a 3.86 ERA to go along with 23 punchouts to nine walks across 16 1/3 frames of relief.
Hernandez, who does not turn 27 until next December, has one minor-league option remaining and is not yet eligible for salary arbitration. Those factors, as well as the fact that his pitch arsenal consists of a high-octane four-seam fastball, a mid-80s curveball, and a high-70s curveball, surely made the 6-foot-2, 255-pound southpaw appealing to a team such as the Orioles.
Although Hernandez has dealt with command issues in the past, he does own a career strikeout rate of 32.3% in parts of four big-league seasons. If Baltimore can harness his ability to induce swing-and-misses without giving up too many walks, perhaps Hernandez can get back on track with a new organization.
Hernandez becomes the latest former Red Sox prospect the Orioles have acquired in some capacity this winter. Last month, they signed right-hander Eduard Bazardo to a minor-league pact and selected fellow righty A.J. Politi in the major-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft. They also signed first baseman/outfielder Franchy Cordero to a split contract on Dec. 2.
(Picture of Darwinzon Hernandez: Elsa/Getty Images)