Felix Hernandez and the Mariners were going to have to get something done contract-wise this winter, or else the team would be in a rather precarious spot going into 2013. Well, a report today from Bob Nightengale of USA Today says the two sides have reached preliminary agreement on a seven-year, $175-million contract that will replace the pitcher’s old deal.
Hernandez will earn an average of $25 million per season.
The deal is not yet finalized, so nobody is commenting for the record and I have not been able to get confirmation of it on my end. Then again, the fact the usual suspects aren’t commenting is usually a good sign something big is about to happen.
Here’s another indicator. When I spoke to GM Jack Zduriencik yesterday, he told me he’d expected to already be in Arizona but had been detained a few extra days in Seattle on business and was hoping to be here by the weekend. Could Zduriencik be expecting to participate in a Friday press conference in Seattle?
Hernandez still had two years left on his initial five-year extension from 2009, so this is more or less another five-year extension with more money attached.
We’d seen previous reports of the Mariners wanting a four-year extension and Henrnandez wanting six.
Looks like both sides decided to meet in the middle.
Now, all that remains is for the Mariners to put a better team around Hernandez.
While the Mariners will undoubtedly tout this as a coup of sorts, they did the same thing back in the winter of 2009-2010 and all they have to show for it issome stellar pitching by Hernnadez and three consecutive last-place finishes. Right now, the rotation has Hisashi Iwakuma as the No. 2 starter and a bunch of question marks after that.
It also has a payroll that remains well below $100 million. It’s still below $90 million, even with this Hernandez deal bumping it up a bit. That means Hernandez alone will take up over a quarter of the payroll by himself. As we saw with Ichiro, that’s a formula for failure. The Mariners have done little to improve their team beyond the 2013 season, with Hernandez the only committed money after that point.
That will have to change, lest history continue to repeat itself.