#5: Felix Hernandez: 2013-2019: 7 years/$175 million
Was I happy when they signed Felix to that deal back when it happened? 100% no doubt about it. I was ecstatic that they were keeping the King. He was one of the best pitchers in baseball, and seeing the team commit to keeping him was a welcome surprise. There was definitely a worry that they weren’t going to sign him, or would possibly trade him.
Little did we know, that the contract would actually end up being a bad thing in the end.
Through the 2012 season, Felix had amassed quite the stat line. A Cy Young, a second-place finish, and a fourth-place finish. A career ERA of 3.22, a FIP of 3.30, a 1.212 WHIP, and a WAR of 33.9. Plus, he just ate innings, averaging 219 from 2006-2012.
Unfortunately, Felix’s arm started to fall apart about halfway through the deal, possibly due to all those innings. I know WAR isn’t everything, but it’s still a pretty good indicator of how someone is doing. Here are his ERA, FIP, and WAR for each season.
- 2013: 3.04 ERA, 2.61 FIP, 5.1 WAR
- 2014: 2.14 ERA, 2.56 FIP, 6.4 WAR
- 2015: 3.53 ERA, 3.72 FIP, 4.6 WAR
- 2016: 3.82 ERA, 4.63 FIP, 1.3 WAR
- 2017: 4.36 ERA, 5.02 FIP, 0.7 WAR
- 2018: 5.55 ERA, 5.18 FIP, -1.0 WAR
- 2019: 6.40 ERA, 6.00 FIP, -0.6 WAR
When you take into account that a win in WAR costs about $7 million. Felix’s WAR over that time was a paltry 16.5. That’s only worth $115 million. He was on such a good pace over those first three years and was only 30 years old in 2016. He was on pace for 37.57 WAR after the first three seasons, which means the team would’ve “saved” $87.97 million if he kept it up.
I love Felix, and was really saddened to see his career fall apart so early. I was hoping that he would keep up with Verlander, re-discover his velocity, and pitch into his mid/late 30’s. He didn’t, and it earns him a spot as the 5th worst contract in Mariners history.