Otto Greule Jr
The rest of the league wants Felix Hernandez, but they might not get the chance
If Felix Hernandez had a no-trade clause with a secondary provision that stated said clause was unable to be waived at either the team's or Hernandez's discretion, there likely would still be Red Sox fans who felt that trading for the star pitcher was the only way to fix the rotation. They aren't alone in this, of course, as there are 28 other teams who would love to pry Hernandez from the Mariners. But, given the Mariners' refusal to move him yet, Hernandez's own statements that he would love to stick in Seattle forever, and the immense package of prospects and young players it would take to overcome all of that, it just is unlikely to happen.
"But wait!" says the Not Mariners fan. "Felix Hernandez is a free agent in two years!" Prospects will be taken out of the picture were that to occur, but financial difficulties would be a new impediment -- with the great-but-still-inferior Zack Greinke signing a six-year, $147 million contract heading into 2013, what do you think it's going to take to lure Hernandez away from the club he loves that can afford him? We might have received a glimpse into the answer to that question, courtesy of FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal:
The Seattle Mariners continue to talk to Hernandez about an extension, according to major-league sources. And while no deal is close, the Mariners are at least weighing a four-year, $100 million proposal, sources said.
It is not known whether the Mariners actually have made Hernandez such an offer; one source described the two sides as "dancing" but not deeply engaged. But a $100 million extension added to the final two years of Hernandez's current contract would amount to six years, $139.5 million - a starting point for further discussions, and perhaps even a reasonable framework for a deal.
As Hernandez is two years away from free agency, taking in slightly less than Greinke would only be costing him potential money, not actual cash. Just like Evan Longoria taking the insurance provided by guaranteed money, even if it's possibly less than what he could have pulled in had he waited, Hernandez accepting a four-year, $100 million extension would likely be in his best interests, even if it "costs" him $20-25 million over the life of the deal.
Rosenthal goes on to mention that the only issue in negotiations could be that Hernandez might want an even longer deal -- a four-year extension would leave him a free agent at age 32, a year older than CC Sabathia when he opted out with the Yankees before 2012. While Sabathia was able to secure a giant contract, should something go wrong with Hernandez by the time he's that age, he might not be able to pull in as lucrative an offer again. If the goal is to reduce risk by signing early, Hernandez just might want the Mariners to take on more of the risk in response, in the form of an even longer deal.
If Hernandez does sign an extension, you can forget about signing him before 2015. This, of course, underscores the importance of developing your own pitchers, and in Boston's case, the significance of having the likes of Matt Barnes, Rubby De La Rosa, and Allen Webster. No, none of these pitchers are Hernandez, but having inexpensive, homegrown arms either leaves money for additional, established pitchers through free agency, or allows a team to be able to avoid that route entirely in the best of situations. Regardless of whether the goal is to avoid spending or to spend elsewhere, bringing up your own capable arms is a key to success.