If the Seattle Mariners want to hold on to their best player and one of the league’s best pitchers, it’s going to cost them. That is, if they agree to the deal.
The Mariners are currently in contract negotiations with their ace and former AL Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez and the two sides were getting close to agreeing on a seven-year extension worth $175 million, which would be the largest contract in history for a pitcher. However, the long term health concern over King Felix may keep the deal from getting done.
Sources told ESPN.com that a developing elbow condition with Hernandez is an issue for at least one party involved in the deal and it’s safe to assume that party is the organization.
Teams are being considerably more cautious with signing players to large multi-year contracts in the last couple of years due to inflated salaries and there’s no doubt that the Mariners are concerned about ending up being the biggest victim of a Hernandez injury.
Two potential deals have already been killed this winter by teams weary of health issues, including a deal that would have brought Mike Napoli to the Red Sox. However, a hip injury prevented that signing from happening.
There’s an obvious fear that the elbow condition could worsen over time. Hernandez has already pitched more than 1600 innings in his career, as he’s had to carry the struggling Mariners as their only real star pitcher. Only three pitchers since 1969 have thrown more innings before the age of 27.
The two sides have plenty of time to work things out. Hernandez is currently signed through two more seasons and has said he wishes to stay in Seattle. And obviously, the Mariners will have him as long as he wants to stay.
Although the deal likely won’t affect the Mariners’ chances at a title this season – they are currently 75/1 to win the World Series – it will certainly heavily affect their shot at a World Series in the future. So, for the team’s sake, hopefully a deal will get done soon, just so it’s out of the way.