Sep 1, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcherFelix Hernandez
(34) pitches to the Los Angeles Angels during the 2nd inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Whether you have been following the rumors that say that the Seattle Mariners have been talking contract extensions with Felix Hernandez or not, an important question to be addressed involves asking the question, “Just how much is King Felix worth to the team?”
One set of Felix rumors has the Mariners offering him $100 million dollars over four years (broken by Ken Rosenthal over at Fox Sports). Currently, Felix’s contract is a five-year contract that was negotiated as a compromise between Hernandez’s desire (a six-year contract) and the Mariners’ offer (a four-year contract). Hernandez has been quoted as saying that he wants to see the Mariners through a division championship and a World Series. But will he accept what the Mariners will pay this next go-around?
Zack Greinke, recently signed for the Los Angeles Dodgers, was the recipient of a $147 million over six years contract that caused many Mariners fans to bite their nails. Cole Hamels, signed by the Philadelphia Phillies in July 2012, received a six-year $144 million dollar contract. Neither of them threw the perfect game Felix had last year. His ERA is 127 – compare this to Hamels’ ERA at 126 and Greinke’s ERA at 114, and you can understand the cause of all the nail-biting.
When doing the math, Hernandez’s $100 million for four years is more than either Greinke or Hamels will receive per year ($24.5 and $24 million per year, respectively). That being said, it could be the case that King Felix wants more per year since his ERA-plus is higher than either of these guys. Even so, he will be the highest paid pitcher (unless someone else comes along who has a larger salary). $25 million per year is more than fair.
While I can’t imagine the Mariners shelling out much more than that per year to keep their star pitcher, one thing that is often overlooked is the loyalty Hernandez has to the team he has made his career with thus far. The King has been quoted more than once on the topic of wanting to stick it out with the Mariners and see them through a championship for the sake of the fans. (Contrast this to Ichiro Suzuki‘s comment about going from the team from the most losses to the one with the most wins when the Mariners traded him to the New York Yankees in July of 2012.) It is very likely that Felix will want to stay with the Mariners to make good on the commitment he has expressed.
Mariners fans certainly want the star pitcher to be on a no-trade list. In the Mariners MLB.com forum, a thread has been started posting quotes supporting the notion that Felix Hernandez will remain a Mariner for life. While this is certainly a very noble idea, and players like Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, and Cal Ripken played for only one team, in the age of free-agency, I’m just not sure it’s realistic to believe a player will stay with one team throughout his career. If anyone is likely to do so, however, it would be Felix Hernandez.
What do you think? Would Felix be a fool to accept a $100 million dollar deal if it came along? Should he hold out for free agency and sell himself to the highest bidder or should he instead stick with the Mariners?