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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

Topic: contract

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February 17, 2013 at 9:36 AM

Mariners owners took first step with Felix Hernandez, but the follow-through will ultimately determine their legacy

Mariners president Chuck Armstrong (left) and chairman Howard Lincoln (right) honor Felix Hernandez after last year’s perfect game. Photo Credit: AP

Read some interesting comments this morning by Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln, who told Jerry Brewer that the seven-year, $175 million contract given to ace pitcher Felix Hernandez is a sign the team’s ownership is committed to building a winner.

“This signing, given the size and length of the contract, is the best evidence that the ownership group is committed to winning and doing what it takes to win,” Lincoln said. “It ought to remove any doubts about how the ownership group feels and what its objectives are.”

If only things were that simple.

Lincoln is right about the team’s commitment to Hernandez being huge and, frankly, imperative. For fans desperate for some positive sign from ownership, this was a big step indeed.

But Lincoln sounds as if he believes Hernandez is the cherry on the team’s championship sundae. In reality, Hernandez right now is exactly what he was three years ago, the last time the Mariners gave him an early extension — a true ace pitcher on a fourth-place team. Yes, the Mariners should win more than they lose this year and might even secure 85 victories like they did back in 2009, the last time they didn’t finish fourth. But looking at the AL West on paper, few experts anywhere are going to pick the Mariners to finish any higher than the Rangers, Angels and Athletics in their own division.

And unless the Mariners can beat out two of those teams, they won’t be going to the post-season anytime soon.

To make that jump will require more than just locking up Hernandez. Those lessons of the past three seasons — when the team lost 101, 95 and 87 games, respectively, with Hernandez fronting the rotation — should be abundanty clear by now.

The hard, factual history of this team is that the ownership group touted by Lincoln has been cutting payroll ever since the collapse of the world’s stock markets towards the end of 2008 and the decline in personal wealth of Hiroshi Yamauchi and Chris Larson, the team’s two largest owners with roughly 85 percent combined control. Yamauchi did cede his ownership shares to Redmond-based Nintendo of America prior to that for “estate planning purposes” but retains titular control of the team.

That decision to cut payroll by the Mariners coincided with the collapse of the 101-loss team in 2008 — which cost $117 million to assemble — and has enabled a selective, fortuitous retelling of history where the team is concerned.

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0 Comments | More in payroll | Topics: contract, felix hernandez, howard lincoln

February 11, 2013 at 10:43 AM

Felix Hernandez deal will likely get done soon

It’s a rainy day in Peoria, Ariz. as the Mariners wait for Felix Hernandez to arrive a day ahead of scheduled physicals for pitchers and catchers.

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.

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0 Comments | More in Felix Hernandez | Topics: contract, elbow, Jack Zduriencik

February 8, 2013 at 6:52 AM

An important thing to consider when it comes to Felix Hernandez and the start point of his new deal

The 2015 start date on a five-year contract extension for Felix Hernandez could save the Mariners payroll space now as opposed to immediately launching a new seven-year deal. Photo Credit: AP

Last night, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reported that the new contract extension for Felix Hernandez is actually a five-year, $135.5 million deal that starts in 2015 — after his current agreement expires two seasons from now. Initially, USA Today reported it as a seven-year, $175 million contract extension that begins right now and replaces the old one.

From a money and years perspective, there’s no difference. Hernandez has two years, $39.5 million in base salary left on his current deal. Add another five years, $135.5 million to that and you get the initial seven years, $175 million reported.

So, both Olney and USA Today are “right” when it comes to the years and dollar amount.

Here’s the difference.

If we’re continuing with the old contract for two years, then nothing changes money-wise with the team’s current payroll when it comes to a Hernandez extension.

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0 Comments | More in payroll | Topics: contract, extension, felix hernandez

February 7, 2013 at 11:44 AM

Report: Felix Hernandez and Mariners have agreed to seven-year, $175-million contract

A report says Felix Hernandez has agreed to a seven-year, $175-million contract with the Mariners. Photo Credit: AP

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?

Stay tuned.

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0 Comments | More in payroll | Topics: contract, felix hernandez, Jack Zduriencik