Sitting here at the Peoria Sports Complex awaiting the arrival later today of Felix Hernandez, who is still in negotiations with the Mariners over a long-term contract extension that will keep him here through 2019.
My feeling, from everybody I’ve spoken to the past 24 hours, is that something could be announced in another day or two.
The issues with Hernandez’s elbow and any potential long-term reprecussions from it can be dealt with by implementing new language in the contract. But as of right now, there is no short-term, immediate issue with the elbow. In other words, Hernandez is still the team’s No. 1 starter and is expected to be that on Opening Day. He’ll arrive here today to put stuff in his locker, then take a physical tomorrow along with other pitchers and catchers. It won’t have to be a complete physical like everybody else is doing because parts of it were already covered by stuff he had done in Seattle as part of this contract extension process.
There has been a total news blackout imposed by both sides as the talks head towards their conclusion. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik is here in Peoria — another possible sign we’ll have some type of press conference in 24 hours or so — but as of right now is secluded in his office and not speaking with reporters. But sources tell me this deal is going to get done and will likely happen before Hernandez takes the field for his first workout on Wednesday. In fact, we could see something announced tomorrow as long as there are no further snags.
In all, that’s much better news than we were getting on Saturday and Sunday.
To summarize, here’s what happened.
The two sides had a basic deal in-place on Thursday, which is why all the leaks surfaced about the years and money involved.
Hernandez was put through an extensive physical and something was spotted on an MRI taken on his elbow. My understanding is that what was seen is wear and tear and the potential for something happening down the road. There’s also a chance nothing could happen down the road. It’s all educated guesswork.
That new development caused parts of the deal to have to be reworked in order to protect the team.
Things like that can take more than a day or two to work through. But they don’t have to be deal-breakers. From what I’ve been led to understand, this time, it won’t be. Hernandez will be staying with the Mariners for a long, long time.