Felix Hernandez, the Seattle Mariners’ ace right-hander, is on the precipice of securing a $175 million contract extension that would be a record for Major League Baseball pitchers.
The sides are in heated discussions about the deal, according to USA Today. At 26, Hernandez was scheduled to earn $19.5 million in the upcoming season and $20 million in 2014 as part of a $78 million deal over five years he signed before the 2010 season. The proposed extension would replace the 2013 and 2014 years and would be valid immediately.
He would earn an average of $25 million a year over the life of the contract, which ends after the 2019 season.
At $175 million total and $25 million annually, the deal sets new pitching contract records in total value and average annual value. The previous marks were held by the New York Yankees’ C.C. Sabathia with $161 million and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Zack Greinke at $24.5 million a year. Overall, the Hernandez deal would be the ninth largest contract in baseball history.
Hernandez’ career record is 98-76, but he has blossomed into one of the most dominant pitchers over the last half-decade. He won the 2010 AL Cy Young Award despite a 13-12 record because he led the league in ERA (2.27) and innings (249 2/3) while finishing second in strikeouts (232). This past season he went 13-9 with a 3.06 ERA while throwing at least 230 innings for the fourth consecutive season.
The Mariners signed him as a 16-year-old out of Venezuela for $710,000 back in 2002, when he reportedly turned down larger offers from the Atlanta Braves and Yankees. Hernandez threw the 23rd perfect game in history in August, beating the Tampa Bay Rays in Seattle.
Surely paying close attention to Hernandez potential new contract are fellow elite pitchers, such as Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw, both of whom are scheduled to hit free agency following the 2014 season, and David Price (free agency in 2015) and Steven Strasburg (2016).
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