Although he wasn’t expected to reach the market anyway, you can cross Felix Hernandez off any dreams lists you may have had for the Cubs’ rotation in 2015. Hernandez, 26, has reportedly signed a seven-year, $175 million extension to remain with the only team he’s ever known, the Seattle Mariners.
Hernandez, consistently one of the best pitchers in the game, was already under team control through 2014, but this new deal supersedes that – so, essentially, he now gets $25 million per year for the next seven years. Given his effectiveness and age, and the escalating market, you can’t really say he isn’t worth it. Indeed, you could even argue that he gave the Mariners a hometown discount.
The signing is not yet official, and it is being reported by Bob Nightengale, so I’m sure some of you will poke some fun. It is, however, expected to get done, and it will be the most lucrative deal in history for a pitcher.
The deal marks just another step in the changing landscape for the availability of premier free agents. Teams continue to lock up their own, and, if the Cubs are expecting to be competitive in 2014/2015/2016, they’ll be able to count on free agents for only a very small portion of their success.
Fortunately, that’s already the approach the front office was taking.
As far as the price tag goes, I don’t see it having too much impact on the rest of the market, given the unique hometown circumstance, combined with Hernandez’s extremely elite talent (not to mention young age). Maybe it impacts Clayton Kershaw’s extension negotiations with the Dodgers, but that’s probably about it. David Price isn’t re-upping with the Rays, though he may seek an extension from his new team if he’s traded – and then this figure might start to become relevant.