Ramon Hernandez’s rough season came to a painful end Monday night, as the Rockies catcher tore his left hamstring while running to first base on what proved to be a ground-rule double.
Hernandez previously missed a big chunk of the season with a hand injury and finished with just 52 games after playing at least 80 games in each of the previous 12 years.
He also hit just .217 and in Hernandez’s absence the Rockies have turned to 23-year-old rookie Wilin Rosario behind the plate. Rosario has shown great power with 24 homers, 15 doubles, and a .521 slugging percentage in 352 plate appearances, but that comes with an ugly .298 on-base percentage and league-leading 19 passed balls.
He’s still very much a work in progress, but Rosario has played well enough that the Rockies would no doubt be willing to hand him the starting job for next season … except Hernandez is under contract for $3.2 million as part of a two-year deal signed in November. Given his age and health status a backup role is probably best for Hernandez at this point, but that’s a big salary for a part-timer and the Rockies would probably love to unload his contract this offseason.
Coming off a career-worst year and hamstring surgery at age 36 that’ll be a tough sell.
An interesting tidbit today from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who noted that ongoing talks between agent Scott Boras and the Padres have focused more on starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel than slugger Bryce Harper. Earlier this week, there were conflicting reports on the Padres’ level of interest in Harper — MLB Network’s Jon Heyman heard the club had not ruled out another big signing after getting Manny Machado, while Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune talked to multiple sources who believed otherwise — but any agreement between the two is looking unlikelier by the day.
As for Keuchel, Rosenthal cautions that a potential deal is still a “longshot,” especially as the team has other, cheaper options in mind. The 31-year-old southpaw turned down a qualifying offer from the Astros last year and is likely angling for something north of the five-year, $90 million contract extension he rejected from the club in 2016. He’s coming off of another solid performance in Houston, where he went 12-11 in 34 starts with a 3.74 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 6.7 SO/9, and 3.6 fWAR through 204 2/3 innings in 2018.
While Keuchel has failed to garner substantial interest around the league this offseason, Heyman points out that the Phillies are looking to establish themselves as frontrunners for the lefty — and they’re far less likely to have hang-ups about his asking price, too.