After hemming and hawing for a few days, the Seattle Mariners and ace right-hander Felix Hernandez have reportedly finalized the seven-year, $175 million contract the two sides essentially agreed to last week. Over the weekend it was reported that the deal was being held up because of concerns about the soundness of Hernandez’s pitching elbow.
The alleviate concerns about his arm, the Mariners apparently included protective language in the deal to minimize their risk. Hernandez took a physical on Thursday that initially raised some concerns. But the deal has not been completely worked out and Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik announced it on Tuesday.
The Mariners are right to be concerned with King Felix’s arm. He has thrown 1,620.1 innings in his seven-year career, the fourth-highest total for a pitcher before his 27th birthday in major league history. He sits behind only Bert Blyleven, Fernando Valenzuel and Dwight Gooden on that list.
Hernandez turns 27 on April 8, but that much mileage on an arm tends to accumulate and cause problems. That said, he is a three-time All-Star, tossed a perfect game last season, won a the American League Cy Young Award in 2010 while leading the league in ERA and gets to play in the pitcher-friendly confines of Safeco Field. Injury risk or not, the Mariners had to make sure he was locked up long term.
For his career, Hernandez carries a record of 98-76, with a 3.22 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 1,487 strikeouts in those 1,620.1 innings.
His new deal will pay him an average of $25 million per season, and it replaces the two years and $39.5 million remaining on his current contract. The new deal will also run through the 2019 season.