By John Boyle
Felix Hernandez, the Seattle superstar who actually wants to be a Seattle superstar, apparently will be a Mariner for a long, long time.
According to this report by the USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, Hernandez has agreed to a seven-year, $175 million contract. That would make Hernandez the highest-paid pitcher in baseball, and more importantly for Mariners fans, it means the team that has seen so many of its best players leave in their primes—Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson—will keep its star pitcher through the 2019 season (per the report, this deal replaces the current contract that runs through 2014, meaning it keeps Hernandez in Seattle five years past his current contract).
Is $25 million a year a lot of money to pay a pitcher? It is. And is a seven-year deal for a pitcher, who while young has considerable mileage on his right arm for a 26-year-old (1,620.1 innings pitched), taking a big risk? Absolultely.
But this was a move the Mariners simply had to make if they were ever going convince their fans that they were serious about turning the franchise around. Just as important, it shows future free agents that Hernandez believes in what the Mariners are building.
Hernandez didn’t have to sign an extension before the 2010 season, he could have asked for a trade to a contender, and he could have let that five-year deal he signed three years ago run out, then signed wherever he wanted to as a free-agent in his prime. Instead, Hernandez apparently will re-sign where he’s always wanted to be.
Hernandez has never wavered on his desire to stay in Seattle, and general manager Jack Zduriencik has spent years shooting down trade offers for his ace pitcher. Now, with two yearsl left on Hernandez’s existing deal, he and the Mariners appear to have gotten their wishes, even if it took a ton of money to do so.
The Associated Press reported that the Mariners would add $134.5 million of guaranteed money over five years to Hernandez’s current contract, which calls for him to receive $40.5 million over the next two seasons.
Hernandez’s total dollars would top CC Sabathia’s original $161 million, seven-year contract with the New York Yankees and his $25 million average would surpass Zack Greinke’s $24.5 million under his new contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, AP reported.