After much speculation that the Mariners well-renowned ace was going to sign with a contender in the coming years, the only organization that Felix Hernandez has ever known finally put those queries to rest as Seattle officially signed him through the 2019 season. The deal is reportedly worth $175 million over 7 years, making King Felix the highest paid pitcher in Major League Baseball history.
Now, I have heard mixed reviews on this deal: why would the mariners spend so much money to keep a pitcher when this offense has been the worst in the AL each of the last 3 seasons? Why not spend that money on getting a "big bat?" I'd like to keep Felix, but is it necessary to bring him back on a record deal? Why not use some of that money to fill holes in the lineup? … These kinds of questions can feed upon one another, but the bottom line is that Seattle made a smart business decision for the long run and it coincides with what they are attempting to do at the present which is build within the system, and why not? When we have 3-5 top notch pitching prospects that other clubs simply salivate over, a strong SS prospect in Nick Franklin to fill Brendan Ryan's shoes once his glove decides to go along with his bat, and the top catching prospect in all of baseball in Mike Zunino who will eventually take full-time duties at backstop, it is a security blanket knowing that when these kids break the big-leagues the club will still have Felix to rely on for years to come.
While the Mariners are focused on breeding their young talent rather than breaking the bank to sign major free-agents, the time is now for the likes of Michael Saunders, Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoke and Jesus Montero to start pulling their weight as Manager Eric Wedge has said he is relying on their continued progress at the Major League level. Wedge has said over and over this offseason that it will be great to plug a couple of veterans into the lineup every now and then to take some pressure off the youngsters and now that the team has signed Jason Bay, Raul Ibanez, Kendrys Morales, Kelly Shoppach, and Mike Morse it is now up to the aforementioned young nucleus of players to step-up and impress. And I believe that the M's can truly surprise this year with the strategy that GM Jack Z has implemented and to many fans dismay, has stood firmly by.
The Hernandez deal will bring national attention to a team that has stood in the shadows of the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels over the last decade, which just may be the spark this team needs as they feel a duty to perform not just in the eyes of the city they play for, but in the eyes of the nation.. for they will be watching.
All Hail The King!
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