ROBINSON CANO and FELIX HERNANDEZ
The truth is, the Mariners have a ton of money locked up in a few players. If you look ahead to 2020, there are only six players on the list. The first five are Gordon, Seager, Leake, Segura, and Cano. The sixth is Wade LeBlanc, with an incentive laden contract (insert link) that becomes better for the team the more he pitches.
It’s not likely the Mariners are going to be able to trade either Cano or Felix. If the Mariners were going to trade Cano, they would have to agree to pay a large amount of the remaining money on his deal. This has happened in the past with players. Usually, it only happens when there are a couple of years left on the deal. In the case of Cano, he is signed through 2023. Which means he has five years and $120 million left heading into the 2019 season.
As for Felix, it isn’t as ridiculous as you think to say he could be traded this year. Chances are both sides, Seattle and Felix, want him to finish his career as a Mariner. However, Felix may want to give that up to make it to the postseason. If he is having a good season, whether in the bullpen or as a starter, the Mariners could trade him to a front-runner looking for a back-end starter.
If this happened, it would likely be for a low prospect, and with Seattle still eating some of the money. Let’s look at the Philadelphia Phillies or the Atlanta Braves. Both teams are in fairly similar situations. They are young teams that could use a veteran presence on the staff. The Phillies already have Jake Arrieta, but a second veteran wouldn’t hurt.
This trade is different than the others, in that it wouldn’t happen until near the deadline of July 31st. His outgoing salary would be prorated to around $9 million. The Mariners could likely get a low tier pitching prospect in return. It wouldn’t help clear payroll this off-season, but it would help the team out still. The trade would look like this.
Philadelphia receives – RHP Felix Hernandez, pays $6 million of $9 million remaining salary
Seattle receives – LHP Jhordany Mezquita (20 years old, #26 prospect)
Seattle would get a young lefty from the Phillies in Mezquita. He would start the 2019 season at age 21, and likely be three to four years away from the big league level. He has the end of rotation ability and sits in the low 90’s. Getting the 16th ranked pitcher in the Phillies system would be a reasonable get for Felix Hernandez, and save the team around $3 million dollars.