The Mariners’ contract extension talks with star pitcher Felix Hernandez have apparently stalled. But that begs the question as to how much is Felix actually worth to the Mariners?
Felix already has two years and $39.5 million left on his current contract.
Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander, the other two top pitchers in baseball, both have organizations that are not yet fretting over their deals, and THEY both have two years left.
But Felix is special. The Dodgers and the Tigers are good teams, while the M’s have been toiling around in the cellar for some time now.
Felix is arguably the only good player on his team. And forget being the only fan favorite.
So how much is Felix worth? Are the Mariners committed to winning and they’ll try to sign a big free agent this off-season? Or are they just pretending that they want to win and the front office will be happy with a bunch of 85-win seasons over the next couple of years?
Felix was the 7th highest paid pitcher in baseball last year. This deal will likely make him the highest paid pitcher in baseball.
First let’s discuss years. The M’s probably want four years. While Felix probably wants six. That would be a ridiculously long time for either deal. The M’s would have time to put all the pieces of the puzzle together and bring together a winning team in both time frames.
So let’s assume that the M’s and Felix agree on 5 extension years. How much is Felix worth per year to the Mariners organization?
Could we see a deal at 5 years and $150 million? $160 million? Or will we see something more in the range of 5 years and $100 million? Or $120 million? How much is the best pitcher in baseball worth?
If advanced stats are any indication of success (they are), Felix is only getting better, and going into his age 27 season, he will likely improve for another two or three years, before plateauing for two or three years and beginning his eventual decline. Felix’s FIP was the best of his career in 2012. His strikeout rate has improved in each of the last six years, and his walk rate has steadily improved over his career.
So the M’s definitely need to lock up Felix over a long, long period of time. They will need to make Felix the highest paid pitcher in baseball ( a King’s ransom for the King), which excluding Johan Santana, would have been $23,000,001 in 2012. So let’s peg Felix at $24.5 million each year for his contract.
That would give us a contract of 5 years and $122.5 million. Then we can toss in incentives of a million dollars for going over 220 innings, and another million for a Cy Young award.
How much do the Mariners need to sign Felix? How important is he?
To put it frankly, if the Mariners lost Felix Hernandez, they would lose roughly 90% of, no, 100% of their fans.
He means so much more to this organization than just elite performance. He is active in the community, and a fan-favorite.
I say that the M’s give him anything he wants, within reason, (under $31 million per year). The M’s front office needs to give the best pitcher in baseball the best contract in baseball. The M’s front office needs to prove to the fanbase that they are committed to winning, and that starts with extending Felix.