|King Felix ‘promises’ he’ll be a Mariner for life||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jim Mancari (Contact & Archive) on August 27, 2012
Seattle fans go crazy for Hernandez every fifth day, which is really the only bright spot of the franchise. Since trading away Ichiro, King Felix is the only marketable player in town.
Photo by Mike Tigas, used under creative commons license.
Hernandez has two years and $40.5 million remaining on the five-year, $78 million contract he signed in January 2010. The deal included a limited no-trade clause, which to this point has never been activated but has likely been discussed constantly.
The trade interest in King Felix is always high among the other teams. Who wouldn’t want a 26-year-old, dominant, front-line starter to add to the rotation? All 29 other teams certainly would.
However, as Hernandez continues to improve (7-0 in past his 12 starts, averaging 7 2/3 innings per start), the Mariners remain mediocre at best. The team has actually overachieved this year, considering the personnel.
So although King Felix has pledged his allegiance to Seattle, would the Mariners front office consider a franchise-altering trade involving the team’s only superstar? There are two schools of thought at play here.
Not trading King Felix would ensure to the fanbase that the team plans on building around him. Once again, he’s still only 26, so he has another decade of productivity. Fans flock to Safeco Field in droves whenever he toes the rubber. Barring injury, Hernandez will continue to be a Cy Young candidate each year.
But on the flip side, think of what Seattle could get in return for King Felix. The Mariners currently have some decent younger players besides Hernandez including Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero and Michael Saunders. However, there’s not much depth after those few players.
Thinking hypothetically, let’s say the Angels offer Mike Trout and a few other close to MLB-ready prospects for Hernandez. Rather than have one player to build around who pitches every fifth day, the Mariners would an array of players who can contribute immediately. It may take a year or two for those prospects to realize their potential, but the team would then have more than just one integral piece.
Now, the Angels of course will definitely be keeping Trout in the foreseeable future, but that would have to be the sort of deal that lures Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik to pull the trigger on a blockbuster trade.
From a financial standpoint, Hernandez may command a contract even larger than Matt Cain’s recent deal with the San Francisco Giants, a six-year, $127.5 million pact that made Cain the highest paid right-handed pitcher in baseball history. Cain will be turning 28 this October.
Both pitchers entered the league in 2005 and now have perfect games on their resumes, but King Felix trumps Cain in most statistical categories. Hernandez has a .574 career winning percentage on mostly bad teams compared to Cain’s .509. King Felix also has over 200 more strikeouts, nearly 100 more innings pitched and seven more complete games than Cain.
Will the Mariners be able to fork up a multi-year contract worth in the $130-150 million range? Hernandez is worth the money, but unfortunately for Seattle, the decision may be strictly financial. If the Mariners don’t attempt to work out a contract extension relatively soon, there’s little doubting that King Felix will test the open market, even though he just gave the M’s a vote of confidence.
It was a very curious decision for Hernandez to say what he said, especially since spending an entire career with one team is a thing of the past. So what happens if the Mariners now trade him in the final year of his current contract? The King would certainly be dethroned.