BY SPNW Staff 12:13PM 02/07/2013

$175 million deal near to keep Felix a Mariner

Report says Hernandez will stay a Mariner through age 33 after seven-year deal that will make him the richest pitcher in MLB history.

In the next appearance after his perfect game, Felix Hernandez was celebrated at Safeco Field. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

The Mariners have taken a major step forward, having agreed with star pitcher Felix Hernandez on a seven-year, $175 million contract that should be finalized before spring training, making him the highest-paid pitcher in baseball history. The story was first reported Thursday morning by USA Today reporter Bob Nightengale, who cited an anonymous source.

Hernandez, 27 in April, was scheduled to earn $19.5 million in 2013 and $20 million in ’14, the last two years of a five-year deal. The  new deal will kick right away and pay him a record average annual value of $25 million through 2019.

The $25 million average annual value is what Alex Rodriguez received in free agency after the 2000 season when he left the Mariners for the Texas Rangers.

The Mariners’ inability to keep their premier homegrown players has been cited in as a factor in fans’ dismay that has led to a 50 percent falloff in attendance since 2001. In the absence of signing a big-time hitter, keeping Hernandez in Seattle and away from free agency is the best personnel news of the off-season.

Neither general manager Jack Zduriencik nor Alan Nero, an agent at Octagon Sports, which represents Hernandez, commented the the report.

The biggest previous deal for a pitcher was the $161 million, seven-year deal signed by C.C. Sabathia with the New York Yankees signed before the 2010 season.

Fans worried about a falloff in Hernandez production should be aware that after he signed his current $78 million deal, he won the 201o Cy Young Award as the American League’s best pitcher.

The day after Hernandez pitched his perfect game Aug. 15, Hernandez told KJR radio that he had no ambitions to go elsewhere.

“You guys be happy,” he said. “I’m not going away.”

It appears Hernandez is a man of his word.


  • Michael Kaiser

    The story says, “The Mariners’ inability to keep their premier homegrown players has been cited in as a factor in fans’ dismay that has led to a 50 percent falloff in attendance since 2001.”

    Refresh my memory as to what “premier homegrown players” we are talking about. Moving on, however; the contract with Felix is the type of contract you want to see for a top-of-the-line pitcher. Pay them the big money in the age range he will be getting his money, not starting when they are in the early to mid-thirties. In fact, if we have the guts, the end of this contract is when we should dump Felix, irrespective of how he is performing at the time.

  • one174

    If Felix ever wants to be on a winning team he should turn this down. 175 mil for him doesn’t leave much for a supporting cast. Deal makes sense for the M’s though, since they are guaranteed to sell a few tickets every five days for seven years no matter how bad they continue to be.

  • Tian Biao

    Ms are doing the right thing here, as pitchers salaries are soaring. As for Felix – wow! I guess he really meant it when he said he liked Seattle and wants to stay here. Impressive commitment, and rare too, as most guys can’t wait to find out how much money the Yankees or Phillies or Dodgers or Angels might throw at them. and now – stay healthy Felix!

  • jafabian

    Giving such a big commitment to a player who appears at the most in 35 games during the season might be something of a head scratcher but if the M’s were going to do this now is the best time. They don’t have any big contracts on the payroll, especially with Ichiro gone and Milton Bradley’s contract finally off the books. If they waited until the last year of his current deal they would have to have offered Felix more to at least match Justin Verlander’s contact when it’s time for him to re-negotiate with the Tigers. Obviously Felix and his agent wanted to get a contract better than what C.C. Sabathia got from the Yankees. Considering what Felix had meant to the club and that he wanted to stay a Mariner it’s a good deal unless Felix decides to go all Barry Zito on the club. Hopefully there’s some provisions in the contract to protect the Mariners if that happens.

  • 1coolguy

    Gosh, and I wonder why pro sports is just out-of-hand lunacy: The Mariners can’t get anything right and this is just another example.
    After Paytons’ final season I gave up my long-held Sonic tickets and turned to the Huskies and haven’t looked back once: Enthusiasm, excitement and yes, affordable ticket prices, all make the Huskies a much better value and much more fun.

    • Roslyndawg

      It’s the market, and it’s completely gone nuts! If he pitches in 35 games and throws 100 pitches a game (both not likely due to injuries, bad starts, etc) he’ll be making over $7000 PER PITCH! That’s almost three quarters of a million for every game! How crazy is that for playing a game? It’s not like he invented a cure for cancer or actually gave himself to some other cause for the betterment. I’m not saying it’s his fault–it is the market–but, just sayin’. I agree with you, 1coolguy, see you at the Husky baseball games. They’re getting a new facility too, and I think it was $6 to get in last year.

  • maqman

    Felix has already created 38.3 fWAR for the M’s worth $191.5MM based on $5MM per fWAR (It’s current value is probably a little higher and will be even more so when gets paid the first dollar on his extension.) So far the team has paid him about $60MM so he has already earned about $130MM in surplus value. There is a very low probability that Felix will not more than earn every dollar he will have been paid in his career by the M’s.

    Additionally, as with the Yankees and A-Rod the M’s will most likely buy insurance against any medical reason ending his ability to pitch for them.

    According to Wendy Thurm (of Fangraphs) the M’s current regional TV deal is worth $45MM a season. Their viewing market covers all of Washington, northern Oregon, most of Idaho and Alaska and western Montana. They along with all 29 other teams will start getting an additional $25MM in revenue from the new MLB national rights sales next year, taking that up to about $50MM a season. That total of $95MM a year next year will about cover their current payroll, including Felix’s. When they renegotiate their regional deal in 2015 (if not before) their media revenues should be close to Texas but not at the level of the NY or LA teams.

    Texas signed their media deal two years before the Dodgers took regional TV money to a whole new level. Their deal was big then, not so much now and will be even less when the M’s set their new deal up.

    The M’s have put their money where their mouth was so the snarks can now zip theirs.