Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports has reported that the Seattle Mariners and starting pitcher Felix Hernandez have agreed to a seven-year, $175 million contract that will keep the ace under the team’s control through 2019. According to the report, the deal, which is expected to be finalized before spring training, would make Hernandez the highest-paid pitcher in baseball history.
Hernandez’s previous deal, inked in 2009, was for five years at $78 million. He was scheduled to make $19.5 million in 2013 and $20 million in 2014, but according to Nightengale, the new contract will take effect this season, replacing the remaining terms of Hernandez’s prior contract with a record average annual salary of $25 million through 2019.
Hernandez’s contract is a continuation of what has been a newfound commitment to spending and dealing demonstrated by the Mariners since the team bid farewell to Ichiro Suzuki – the face of the franchise for more than a decade. It was only months ago that Hernandez was rumored to be on the trading block and the Mariners were heading into full rebuilding mode. Now, it seems that Seattle has decided to make him the centerpiece of a new era of Seattle baseball. Below is a chronology of Seattle’s busy winter offseason:
- December 8 – signed free agent LF Jason Bay
- December 19 – acquired 1B Kendrys Morales from the Los Angeles Angels in a trade for LHP Jason Vargas
- December 19 – signed free agent 3B Leury Bonilla
- December 20 – signed free agent 1B Mike Jacobs
- December 12 – signed free agent RHP Jeremy Bonderman
- December 26 – signed free agent LF Raul Ibanez
- January 15 – signed free agent RHP Brian Sweeney
- January 16 – acquired LF Michael Morse from the Washington Nationals in a three-team deal sending C John Jaso to the Oakland Athletics
- January 25 – signed free agent C Ronny Paulino
- January 26 – signed free agent LHP Eric Niesen
- January 29 – signed free agent OF Kurt Fleming
- January 29 – agreed to sign free agent catcher Kelly Shoppach
Even with all the wheeling and dealing, the Mariners’ will roll into spring training with a payroll right around $84 million – which is virtually the same year-end payroll the team reported in December 2012. That number factors in the $5-6 million pay increase this new contract will give Hernandez in 2013.
Of course, whether or not all these offseason moves will pan out as success on the field remains to be seen. But if I’m a Seattle fan, I can’t help but be excited at the aggressiveness this front office has shown toward turning things around for a franchise that has not made it to the postseason since the 2001 season.
Seeds All Day will offer a more in depth look at the makeup of Seattle’s roster, along with those of all 30 MLB franchises, as we get closer to Opening Day.