It has been quite a year for the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona. On January 19, 2012 he was arrested leaving the U.S. consulate in the Dominican Republic on charges that he had been using a fake name and documents to obtain his visa. It was later revealed that Carmona’s real name was actually Roberto Hernandez Heredia and he was actually 31 years old and not 27 as he had claimed.
The charges against him were eventually dropped in exchange for community service and a fine and he was granted a visa on July 20th; upon returning to the U.S. he was handed a three-week suspension by Major League Baseball. He finally returned to the mound on August 15 and appeared in three games, posting a record of 0-3 with a 7.53 ERA. He had to leave his final start on August 27 against the Oakland A’s after suffering a mild ankle sprain and never returned.
In early March the Cleveland Indians and Hernandez restructured his contract—a move which was questioned by my colleague Lewie Pollis in an article titled Why Did Roberto Hernandez Restructure His Contract? Hernandez was originally set to make $7 million in 2012 with the Indians holding club options of $9 million in 2013 and $12 million for 2014. According to the Associated Press, the reworked contract called for a base salary of $2.5 million in 2012 with bonuses for days on the roster and innings pitched, which he did not reach. In exchange for reworking the deal, Hernandez lowered his base salary for his 2013 club option to $6 million and agreed to remove the $12 million 2014 club option.
The Indians will be faced with the question of whether to pick up the $6 million team option that they hold for 2013. I would urge the Tribe to not pick up the option—not solely based on his performance in a small sample size but based on his performance based on the past five seasons.
There are some who still cling to memories Hernandez’s magical 2007 season where he went 19-8 with a 3.06 ERA. Unfortunately, we have only seen one season that even closely resembles that season: 2010, when he posted a record of 13-14 with a 3.77 ERA over 215.1 innings of work.
There are just too many hurdles for Hernandez to overcome to justify picking up a $6 million option including his disappointing 2011 season and after throwing only 14.1 innings in 2012 how can the Indians expect him to pitch effectively deep into 2013?
Personally, I would decline the option but attempt to sign Hernandez to a one-year $3 million dollar contract and add a second year club option (for 2014) worth $6 million with a $1 million buyout. Others may want the Indians to part ways with the erratic Hernandez and view any contract offer as a waste of resources and would invest the money elsewhere, but I’d be happy to give him another chance for a small enough investment.