Monday, February 11, 2013
Could Felix's elbow wipe out record deal?
By Jason Catania
The big news late last week was that the Seattle Mariners had agreed to to a massive contract extension with ace Felix Hernandez that would keep him in Seattle through the 2019 season and pay the right-hander $175 million in total. The deal, of course, was contingent upon everything checking out okay with regards to Hernandez's health, which is often a formality. In this case, though, the status of Hernandez's elbow appears to be anything but.
There could actually be a snag in the deal after word started circulating that there could be a problem with King Felix's right elbow, as the Seattle Times' Geoff Baker writes.
ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney initially reported that sources hinted specifically at the elbow -- "It's an issue," one told Olney -- and the contract could be held up while this "issue," whatever it is exactly, is explored further.
Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik would not comment on the situation other than to say that Hernandez has been throwing for the past month, as per usual at this time while he prepares for spring training, and he will be in camp with the rest of the club's pitchers and catchers when they report Tuesday, according to MLB.com's Greg Johns.
The deal, which was to pay Hernandez $25 million per season, would be the richest given to any pitcher in history of the game. Whether that actually happens, though, remains to be seen. Obviously, if the Mariners detect any problems in either the short- or long-term with Hernandez's elbow (or any other part of his arm or shoulder, for that matter), the entire deal would be scaled back -- if not taken off the table entirely.
The outcome here will impact more than just the Mariners and Hernandez, too, as other big-name pitchers like Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw and David Price are nearing free agency and could be looking to score a contract along the lines of what Hernandez had lined up. But even if everything checks out with Hernandez and he and Seattle stick to the original deal, it might give other clubs pause when it comes time to handing out $150-200 million to another pitcher, like the aforementioned trio.