ATLANTA – Former Cy Young winner Félix Hernández has opted out of the 2020 season, at least temporarily ending his bid to revive his career with the Atlanta Braves.
Braves manager Brian Snitker said Sunday that Hernández, 34, opted out due to the coronavirus pandemic. The decision was made after Hernández participated in workouts on Friday and Saturday at Truist Park.
The decision came a day after Snitker announced that four-time All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman, premier reliever Will Smith and two more Atlanta players tested positive for COVID-19. Right-hander Touki Toussaint and infielder Pete Kozma also had positive tests announced on Saturday.
Snitker said Hernández may have realized “it is way, way different” now as players must deal with the concerns of trying to start the season during the pandemic.
“Everybody told him it would be, but until you live it I don’t think you know it,” Snitker said. "As tests come in and outbreaks and things like that, I think it’s just human nature to process these things as you have family members involved and children and things like that.
“Things like that aren’t a reality until we get here and live it.”
Hernández, a six-time All-Star in 15 seasons with Seattle who won the 2010 AL Cy Young Award, needed a fresh start following 2019, his worst season. The right-hander called King Felix posted a 6.40 ERA, was 1-8 in 15 starts and lost his spot in the rotation.
Hernández signed a one-year minor league deal with the Braves on Jan. 20 . The deal included an invitation to big league spring training, and he would have earned $1 million if added to Atlanta’s 40-man roster.