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Where Are They Now: What Happened to Jose Hernandez?

Recalling Jose Hernandez's career with the Chicago Cubs.
Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Remember Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton? Well, the Cubs traded for those players. One of the players in the trade the Cubs moved on from was Jose Hernandez, this week's Where Are They Now featured player.

Hernandez played 15 seasons in the majors, including seven with the Chicago Cubs. As I continue on with players on the Cubs '98 roster with ESPN Films' 'Long Gone Summer' coming up, let's take a look at his career with the Cubs.

Hernandez was traded to the Cubs in June of 1994 from the Cleveland Indians for pitcher Heathcliff Slocumb. Slocumb went on to pitch for seven different teams as a middle reliever and closer in his ten-year major league career, but he only played with the Indians for one season.

Hernandez played some solid seasons with the Cubs, however, his best years were with the Milwaukee Brewers. He played 150 or more games twice in his career, both in Milwaukee. To make Cubs' fans feel better, he led baseball in strikeouts in two of the three seasons with the Brewers. In 2002, Brewers manager Jerry Roysterdid not play him in the last four games of the season so he would not break the single-season strikeout record of 189. He finished with 188. He finished with 185 the prior season. He struck out 498 times in two and a half seasons with Milwaukee compared to 504 times in seven seasons with the Cubs.

Nonetheless, Hernandez finished his Cubs career with a .253/.309/.438 slash line and .747 OPS as an infielder. He supplied some decent pop at the plate in 1998, compiling career-highs in home runs (23), doubles (23), at-bats (488), runs batted in (75), walks (40), total bases (230), hits (124), runs (76), games played (149), and unfortunately for him at the time, strikeouts (140). It was truly a breakout season for him at the time.

The Cubs would eventually move on from Hernandez in the summer of 1999 in a trade with the Atlanta Braves that landed a return of Micah Bowie, Reuben Quevedo, and a player to be named later. The player named 24 days after the trade was Joey Nation.

Bowie finished the '99 season with a 9.96 ERA in 11 starts. In his 47 innings, he allowed 52 earned runs including eight home runs. He was released at season's end and didn't play in the majors again until 2002.

Nation pitched 11.2 innings in 2000. He finished with nine earned runs. He never pitched in the majors again.

Quevedo pitched one season for the Cubs. In 2000, the heavyset righty went 3-10 in 15 starts and six relief appearances, finishing with a 7.47 ERA and 21 home runs allowed in 88 innings pitched.

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Yikes. All in all, not good. The Cubs also sent Terry Mulholland to the Braves. Mulholland was 36, past his best years, but was productive in Atlanta, pitching 217 innings in two seasons. Hernandez was a free agent at season's end. He signed with Milwaukee that offseason, where he would go on to be very productive outside of his strikeouts.

After the 2002 season, Hernandez signed as a free agent with Colorado. He weirdly enough was traded twice in the 2003 season. The Cubs traded Mark Bellhorn to the Rockies in exchange for Hernandez on June 20th. In July, the Cubs moved Hernandez in the trade that would bring Ramirez and Lofton to Chicago. The Cubs sent Hernandez, Bobby Hill, and Matt Bruback to the Pirates. Bruback never made it to the majors, Hill played two seasons with the Pirates and finished with a 0.3 WAR for his career, and Hernandez played 53 games with the Pirates and batted .223.

Lofton slid into the Cubs' leadoff role and helped make a playoff push, leading the North Siders to their first championship appearance since 1984.

It still hurts to say that season ended in heartbreak as the Marlins won in seven games, but you can't complain about a .327/.381/.471 slash line in 56 games.

As most know, Ramirez went on to play third base for the Cubs for nine seasons, making three All-Star games in the process.

In the end, it worked out for the Cubs in terms of player production and they got redemption for not getting much of anything in the first trade they made for Hernandez.

He retired after the 2007 season and went on to become a field coach in the Baltimore Orioles organization, where he's been since 2010. He was promoted to the Orioles major league team in 2019.

If you have a Cubs player from the past in mind and want to know more, tweet it @codelmendo on Twitter.