ESPN is reporting that the Seattle Mariners and ace starter Felix Hernandez have agreed on a multi-year deal that will lock up the right hander through the next five seasons. Hernandez will make $78 million over the life of the deal. Hernandez, in his second year of arbitration eligibility this year, earned $3.8 million in 2009.
Reports that the Boston Red Sox were in hot pursuit of Hernandez circulated after last July's trading deadline. The young ace was seen as becoming too expensive for Seattle to retain. The rumors of his departure were greatly exaggerated. Seattle's commitment to winning with Hernandez is reflected in the aggressive pursuit of talent this offseason.
Hernandez's signing is yet another coup for Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik. He had already improved his club by adding Chone Figgins via free agency; Cliff Lee, Milton Bradley, Casey Kotchman and Brandon League by trade; while jettisoning the burdensome contracts of Carlos Silva and Bill Hall. In addition he locked up his young centerfielder Franklin Gutierrez on a similar long term deal earlier this month.
The deal secures that Seattle will retain its ace through the apex of his talent arc. Last season, at age 23, Hernandez posted a 19-5 record with a 2.49 ERA and 217 strikeouts in 238.7 innings pitched. Hernandez broke into the majors at age 19 and quickly established himself with his plus stuff and sharp control. The deal will keep him in the Pacific Northwest through his age 28 season.
Hernandez' signing reduces the number of players whose cases are pending to 107. The Mariners will exchange figures with their four remaining arbitration eligible players by midnight tonight. They'll have until hearings begin to sign closer David Aardsma, the recently acquired duo of Kotchman and League and reliever Mark Lowe. Please visit the salary arbitration page for more information.
Joe Tetreault is a member of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey.
Follow The Biz of Baseball on Twitter
Follow the Business of Sports Network on Facebook