Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners reached an agreement Tuesday on a contract that is expected to make him the highest-paid pitcher in baseball.
“I think it’s a great thing for the Seattle Mariners,” Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “It’s a great thing for Felix Hernandez, and looking forward to this guy being here for a very long time, obviously.”
King Felix Strikes It Rich
Felix Hernandez is set to become the richest pitcher in baseball history when he agrees to a $175 million deal with the Mariners. By average annual value, Hernandez’s contract exceeds that of every contract given to a pitcher except for Roger Clemens’ prorated $28 million deal in 2007.
Hernandez’s deal is worth $175 million over seven years, a source told ESPN The Magazine’s Buster Olney. Terms of the contract were not released by the team.
Hernandez and Zduriencik will hold a news conference in Seattle on Wednesday afternoon, where the ace right-hander is expected to sign the contract.
Earlier Tuesday, Zduriencik said the sides were having significant talks to try to finalize a new contract for the three-time All-Star and 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner. Zduriencik said then that a deal of that magnitude in years and dollars, “takes time to work things out.”
It didn’t take too long. By the afternoon, Hernandez’s deal was done and Seattle had its ace locked up through the 2019 season.
Negotiations had stalled in recent days when concern developed over the condition of Hernandez’s pitching elbow, a source told Olney. There were “minor concessions” made because of the concern for his elbow, a source told Olney.
The new contract will encompass the final two years of his current deal that is scheduled to pay Hernandez $40.5 million in 2013 and 2014. He’ll receive $134.5 million over the additional five years.
Hernandez’s total dollars would top CC Sabathia’s original $161 million, seven-year contract with the New York Yankees and his $25 million average would surpass Zack Greinke’s $24.5 million under his new contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers and tie him for the second-highest in baseball with Josh Hamilton and Ryan Howard behind Alex Rodriguez [$27.5 million]. Hernandez’s new money would average $26.9 million over five years.
With Hernandez off the market, Detroit’s Justin Verlander and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw become the most attractive pitchers eligible for free agency after the 2014 season. Tampa Bay’s David Price is eligible after the 2015 season.
[ad name=”GAS-Blog-Banner”]Hernandez, who will turn 27 on April 8, is 98-76 with a 3.22 ERA in eight seasons with the Mariners. He won a career-high 19 games in 2009 when he finished second in the Cy Young voting then won the award a year later when he went just 13-12 but had a 2.27 ERA and 232 strikeouts.
Hernandez appeared to be making another Cy Young push last year before going 0-4 in his last six starts, which left him at 13-9 with 223 strikeouts.
His career record would be even better if he didn’t play with one of baseball’s worst offenses. Seattle had the lowest batting average in the major leagues in each of the last three seasons. Hernandez has taken 10 losses during that span when he’s given up two earned runs or less.
For his career, Hernandez has allowed two earned runs or less in 141 of 238 starts, but the team is only 99-42 in those games due to the offensive problems.