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Mets Sign Livan Hernandez

For weeks, Mets general manager Omar Minaya has been assuring reporters that the team wasn't going to add any big players before the start of spring training. Usually, the questions came in connection with the still unsigned Manny Ramirez, and he's Minaya has been absolutely insistent that his team isn't interested in adding the slugger. However, he never said the team wouldn't add a physically "big" player, did he.

With that, the Minaya confirmed to New York Daily News writer Christian Red that the Mets have signed Livan Hernandez, adding yet another piece to one of the most complicated competitions for a fifth starter's spot that we've seen in quite some time.

Hernandez's contract calls for a $1 million base salary and some unrevealed incentive clauses. With Hernandez in the mix, all four of these pitchers could conceivably break camp as New York's No. 5 starter:

  1. Freddy Garcia -- coming off an injury-shortened season (he started late) with only 3 starts, Garcia was 1-1 with a 4.20 ERA, but has multiple All-Star appearances on his resume

  2. Tim Redding -- It wasn't a banner season for Redding in Washington, but he logged plenty of innings, throwing 182 innings in 33 starts, finishing 10-11 with a 4.95 ERA. He's not perfect, but he'll make all his starts and might be the safest of New York's fifth starter options.

  3. Jon Niese -- A rookie, Niese is a wild-card. Like Garcia, Niese made only three starts last fall after being called up from the minors. His effort didn't go so well -- 1-1 with a 7.07 ERA, but the 22-year-old Ohio native may provide more upside than any of the other three options.

  4. Livan Hernandez -- Just like Manny, last year Livan was Livan, with a high innings total and high ERA to match. He started a whopping 31 games, pitching 180 innings between Minnesota and Colorado, finishing with a 5.48 ERA in the Twin Cities and 8.03 ERA with the Rockies.

So what does the Hernandez signing mean? Realistically, it means that the Mets will probably keep Niese down in the minors for another year, or at least until they need another starter to fill in. It also means that two of: A) Hernandez, B) Redding or C) Garcia could be made available if they fail to earn the fifth starter's spot. For a team like the Nationals, those guys could become intriguing late additions, assuming they don't accept a minor league designation (Hernandez and Garcia are both on minor league deals, so we can't necessarily assume they'd end up back on the market).

Thoughts? Who'll end up in the fifth spot for the Mets? And why is Minaya stockpiling so many starters, when he could still use another lefty reliever? It seems a little curious, doesn't it?

By Cameron Smith  |  February 14, 2009; 12:37 PM ET
Categories:  Mets  
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Cameron - I think we can assume that Niese only makes the big club if he has an outstanding ST; It will come down to Redding, Garcia or Livan for the #5 slot. I'd bet on Redding, with Livan as the dark-horse.

Posted by: BinM | February 14, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse


I would agree, but I would label Livan as the draft horse.

Posted by: kevincostello | February 14, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse


Nice - sorry I didn't think of it myself.

Posted by: BinM | February 14, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

The Nats aren't going to bring back Redding or Hernandez if they are put on the market by the Mets.

If he is healthy Freddy Garcia would seem to be the player that will start the season in the Mets' rotation.

I agree they will let Niese continue to log innings in the minors until September.

Posted by: leopard09 | February 16, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

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