Just a few days ago, Mariner fans were celebrating a $175 million deal, locking up Felix Hernandez for 7 years. But then King Felix's representatives said the deal is only about 70% done. Now there are reports raising red flags over his pitching elbow.
ESPN reports that condition in Hernandez's elbow is holding up the richest deal for a pitcher in major league history. ESPN's source says "it's an issue". The M's reportedly found out when they gave him a physical on Thursday pertaining to this deal.
Greg Johns, from the Mariners website, writes about today's report. M's general manager Jack Zduriencik gave him a statement saying, "I'm not going to comment on any of that other stuff. It's ridiculous. I've watched him [Felix Hernandez] at [Safeco Field] for the last month or so throwing, and he's his normal self.”
But there may be cause for concern. The King has been a workhorse for the M's. He's thrown 200 plus innings over the past five seasons. He's thrown 1,620.3 innings, fourth most by a pitcher before they turn 27 years old, since 1969. He's right behind Bert Blyleven, Fernando Valenzuela and Dwight Gooden.
Last season, Hernandez seemed poised to win or at least contend for another Cy Young award. But his last six starts ended with an 0-4 record, with a 6.62 ERA. The M's didn't mention any physical issues with him, at that time. But if this elbow condition is an issue, maybe it flared up during that "un-King like" stretch.
As other writers have pointed out, this deal could still get done by changing the language in the contract to protect the M's from an injury to King Felix. As Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal & Jon Paul Morosi point out, the Yankees put in provisions to protect them in case pitcher C.C. Sabathia hurt his throwing shoulder. The Red Sox did the same with pitcher John Lackey. They had concerns about his elbow.
In the end, Hernandez has two years left on his current deal. They'll have plenty of time to work out the details, rip up his current contract, and sign a new record breaking deal. CBS baseball insider Jon Heyman thinks it could happen this week, next week, or next month.
We could possibly know more Tuesday when Pitchers and Catchers report in Peoria, Arizona for spring training.