And the king, though fairly well compensated before now, will finally be paid like one. Sadly, this will only mean an end of the King Felix to the Yankees rumors for about three or four months.
And while some will claim that this is an overpay and that it will upset the pitching market for every other starter I say three things: 1. The market will bear what it will bear, 2. inflated TV contracts mean inflated player contracts and 3. can’t we just enjoy a player re-signing with his club? Baseball is still a source of entertainment and if Felix Hernandez re-signing with the Mariners doesn’t provide you with a spark of joy, well, I’m afraid your body has long been dead and you are probably strapped to a gurney in a hospital morgue somewhere. As Geoff Baker is quick to point out, the Mariners will be opting out of their television contract in 2015 and even if the bubble on the Dodgers $7 billion deal bursts, the team’s overall value should still climb above $1 billion. Paying for Felix and adding other pieces like Ken Griffey Jr’s long-rumored cloned twin shouldn’t be a problem.
Barring a freak injury or skydiving accident, Felix should hold up over the deal, too. He has yet to suffer a major arm injury and Baseball Prospectus, even while expecting some regression, sees Felix being largely the same pitcher he’s been for the next five seasons. According to FanGraphs, Felix Hernandez has been worth $162 million in his eight year career, 105 of that just in his last four seasons. And while there are never any guarantees in life, especially for pitchers who routinely toss more than 230 innings a season, there are even fewer mid-20s pitchers with Cy Young awards, and perfect games, and viral ad campaigns that lead to fictional bobblehead days.
But even if Felix does get injured and struggle, that doesn’t mean the deal is a bad one. Besides the amount of jerseys and tickets sold, there is something to be said for exciting the fanbase, pleasuring the diehards, softly caressing those dressed in your team’s colors. Which is not to say every enormous signing is a good one (cough, Barry Zito, cough), but when a sound investment into a fan favorite and successful player is made, let’s celebrate. Sure, that won’t stop the fans from booing Felix every time out in four years if his numbers more closely resemble Jeremy Guthrie’s, but it should. Because arms blow out, fastballs lose their zip, and we all fall in vain against age’s great ax.
Of course, the real question on everyone’s mind: how large a cut is Larry Bernandez’s, brother/friend/spiritual advisor to Hernandez? Though we’ll probably have to wait until the contract is officially signed, one would have to imagine that a good $15-$20 million is earmarked just for the upkeep of Bernandez’s luxurious sideburns.
Those things require upkeep, man.
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