A relieved-looking Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik just walked into the media room here in Peoria and announced that, as expected, the contract extension for Felix Hernandez is now complete.
A press conference has been scheduled for 2 p.m. PT tomorrow at Safeco Field.
“We’re headed out right now and Felix will be headed out shortly as well,” Zduriencik said. “We’ll give you all the details at that time.”
It is being reported by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that Hernandez’s old deal will, in fact, be torn up and replaced with a brand new seven-year, $175 million extension.
There will likely be a signing bonus attached to that, meaning Hernandez will very likely be earning far more than the $20.7 million he was initially slotted to make this year in base salary and a pro-rated bonus. That will impact the budget short-term and could be a reason the Mariners did not make any significant payroll additions the past few weeks.
Payroll was at $85 million as of today, with the potential to go to about $91 million if players reach easily-attainable incentives. We’ll see how Hernandez’s new deal breaks down.
Zduriencik sent out congratulations to Hernandez’s agents, Scott Pucino and Wil Polidor, calling them “very professional” in how they handled negotiations.
“I think it’s a great thing for the Seattle Mariners, it’s a great thing for Felix Hernandez and we’re looking forward to this guy being here for a long time, obviously,” Zduriencik said.
The Hernandez extension clearly was not dependent on the remainder of the physical Hernandez is taking here this afternoon. Hernandez hasn’t taken the remaining portion of his physical — the stuff not done last week in Seattle — as of yet.
Word of the extension first broke last week, but the finalizing of it was delayed when an elbow issue was discovered after Hernandez took a physical in Seattle last Thursday. The issue is not said to be an injury, but a potential long-term risk related to wear and tear in the elbow seen on an MRI. The two sides worked through the weekend to introduce protective language into the deal that would safeguard the Mariners in the event Hernandez suffers an elbow injury down the road.
In other news, pitcher Jon Garland did pass his physical and has agreed to a minor league deal with the club with an invitation to spring training.
“I’m excited to test the arm and get the competitive juices going again,” Garland said, adding that he feels 100 percent and has been throwing off a mound the past month.
Garland underwent rotator cuff surgery in July 2011 and decided to abort a comeback attempt with Cleveland a year ago prior to taking his required spring training physical.
“Going into spring, I’d gotten off the mound a few times and I was going in the wrong direction,” he said. “Every time I got on the mound, it was getting weaker and it wasn’t recovering as well. And I knew right then and there that I had to shut it down and give it the time it needed. It was probably the best decision I ever made.”
Garland said he could have played midway through last season if he really wanted to. He’d been told by other pitchers who’d had similar surgery that it takes a full year to get complete strength back and feel normal again.
Last July, that’s just what happened. Garland resumed throwing again in September and says he now feels ahead of where he’d normally be heading into spring training.
“Really, what it was is that the strength needed to come back,” he said. “Not only did it need to come back, it needed to stay and recover after a good hard session off the mound.”