Did you know King Felix was almost a Brave? Thanks in part to his idol Freddy Garcia, Hernandez ended up signing with the Mariners. Thanks a lot, Freddy.
Hernández received a large signing bonus of $710,000, although he said the Mariners were not the highest bidder. Other teams trying to sign him included the New York Yankees, the Atlanta Braves, and the Houston Astros, with the Braves reportedly offering the most money.
He’s not the only ace hurler who almost pitched for the Braves:
- Randy Johnson — Selected in the 4th round (89th overall) of the 1982 amateur draft, Johnson turned down the Braves’ offer, choosing USC instead. Speaking of Trojans …
- Tom Seaver — Chosen with the 20th pick in the 1st round of the 1966 re-entry draft, an administrative gaffe sent the future Hall of Famer back into the amateur pool. The Braves signed Seaver to a $40,000 signing bonus but the deal was voided by Commissioner Spike Eckert because the Trojans’ season had begun when the contract was signed.
- Luis Tiant — In 1971 a 30-year-old Tiant was thought to be washed up after being released by Minnesota. The Braves gave him a 30-day tryout at Richmond to see if he could regain the All-Star form he had displayed in Cleveland. After 30 days, the Braves let him go. He signed with the Red Sox’s AAA affiliate and went on to eat another 2,100 major league innings over the next 10 seasons, winning 147 games.
- Adam Wainwright — Dealt in the horrendous Just Disabled trade, the Brunswick native is 66-35 with a 2.97 ERA for the Cardinals.
Honorable mention: Bob Gibson, who, as Joe Torre’s pitching coach, flirted with returning to the mound for the Braves during the ’82 NL West race.