Felix Hernandez Reportedly Getting Blockbuster Contract

At present, Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, and Clayton Kershaw are three of the very greatest starting pitchers in the game. They’re also all two years away from free-agent eligibility, so there’s been talk of long-term contract extensions. Dave wrote about this subject last month, and he estimated that Hernandez could end up with a seven-year commitment worth about $150 million. That would be five years at $22 million apiece, attached to the end of the two years for which Felix is already signed.

Thursday has brought news of no confirmations. However, it’s also brought a report out of USA Today that Hernandez and the Mariners have agreed to terms on a seven-year deal worth $175 million. Follow-up reports say it isn’t official, and that there are still some little issues to work out, but the hard part looks to have been conquered. While the numbers might change a bit, it seems this should get finalized, and Hernandez should end up with a five-year contract extension, plus raises in 2013 and 2014. What we’re looking at is a seven-year commitment to a pitcher with a $25 million average annual value.

The years are right on what people have been expecting, but the money’s a little higher — certainly higher than Dave’s estimation. A seven-year, $175 million contract would be the biggest contract ever given to a pitcher, although that doesn’t take inflation into account. Zack Greinke recently signed with the Dodgers for six years and a $24.5 million average annual value. CC Sabathia‘s five-year contract with the Yankees has a $24.4 million AAV. Cole Hamels‘ six-year contract with the Phillies has a $24 million AAV. The money for Felix isn’t far off, although it is interesting that he’d be signing for this much still two years away from what would’ve been the end of his previous contract.

On talent, Hernandez is worth the money. Over the past three years, he ranks sixth in baseball (among pitchers) in RA9-wins, between Cliff Lee and David Price, and he ranks third in FIP-based WAR, between Lee and Roy Halladay. With some good starting pitchers, it isn’t clear whether or not they ought to qualify as “aces”. “Ace” is a subjective label, in that it doesn’t have a strict definition, but everybody recognizes that Hernandez has been an ace, and he’s still considered one now. He’s a couple months away from his 27th birthday.

By looking at the money, one might conclude that Hernandez didn’t give the Mariners a hometown discount, in the way that Jered Weaver re-signed with the Angels for less than he deserved. The Mariners are basically signing Hernandez for free-agent money, two years away from free agency. But here’s the key to that sentence: the Mariners are signing Hernandez. The “hometown discount” is that Hernandez was willing to re-sign with the Mariners in the first place, despite the fact that they’ve been so mediocre for so long. The Mariners have made countless statements regarding their intent to keep Hernandez around. The feeling has been mutual, and now Felix will be remaining in place while making enough money to create a respectable college through which he could later put his kids.

For Verlander and Kershaw, this obviously matters, because it sets some sort of level of expectation. While Verlander is older than Hernandez, he’s also been better, so his agents could use this as a baseline. And Kershaw is with the Dodgers so I don’t know if they even negotiate, instead just handing over a checkbook and a pen. Since Hernandez is reportedly signing for more than people expected, this is a good day for Verlander and Kershaw, and a less good day for the Tigers and Dodgers.

We’re left with the matter of considering a seven-year commitment to a pitcher. And not just a seven-year commitment — a commitment worth an incredible sum of money, taking up a significant fraction of the Mariners’ present and future payrolls. There’s no question that most long-term commitments to pitchers in the past haven’t worked out great. I don’t need to sit here and cite examples, but there are fewer examples of successes than there are examples of failures. We just the other day saw Brandon Webb close his own book. Chris Carpenter is probably finished as a baseball-playing professional. Pitchers are risky, and when pitchers break down — which they frequently do — there’s never any certainty they’ll be able to recover and be effective, let alone as effective.

You just can’t project these things. Felix is still, today, relatively young. Is that good or bad, when it comes to predicting his future? Felix is an established workhorse, reliably piling up the innings and the pitches. Is that good or bad, when it comes to predicting his future? Felix has never suffered a major throwing-arm injury. Is that a sign of durability, or a sign that he’s due for some problems?

Sometimes pitchers are Greg Maddux, and sometimes they’re not. I do know that there aren’t any concerns about Felix’s health right now, as he’s been thoroughly checked out by the team. That early-season velocity scare from 2012 is ancient history. But what Felix is now means only so much when it comes to knowing what Felix will be in a year or in six years. Presumably, he will be monitored very closely, but there’s only so much you can do with regard to injury prevention.

One thing working in the Mariners’ favor is that I’m guessing teams are smarter about pitchers now than they ever have been in the past. We should, in theory, see a reduced number of major pitching injuries over time. There’s also the matter of Hernandez’s pitch diversity, as he throws a handful of quality weapons. One thing we can be almost sure of is that Hernandez will continue to lose fastball velocity, but because his other pitches are so good, that shouldn’t destroy him on its own. All of his individual pitches are good ones.

And one thing we haven’t touched on, because it’s difficult to quantify, is Hernandez’s meaning to Seattle. His loyalty, and peoples’ loyalty to him, has value, of some amount. He’s the face of that franchise, and he’s the one superstar on a team of half-decent veterans and potential up-and-comers. We don’t know what it would mean to the Mariners’ books were they to let Felix go, but it probably wouldn’t mean anything good. Hernandez adds value and appeal to a franchise that needs as many fans as it can get.

If this reported deal is true, Hernandez’s side should be thrilled, because it’s landing the biggest pitcher contract ever. The Mariners’ side should also be thrilled, because the team’s locking up one of the game’s greatest talents. There are tremendous, impossible risks here, and this most certainly isn’t a bargain. But this is something that felt like it had to be done, so upon finalization, Hernandez will be further on his way to being a Seattle Mariner for life.



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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Rippers
Guest
Rippers
3 years 5 months ago

Is it too early to start negotiating another extension?

Slats
Guest
Slats
3 years 5 months ago

k forward to the day when SafeCo I look forward to the day when SafeCo is pumping like it was in the early 2000’s and King Felix is leading the Seattle Mariners to a World Series ring.

James
Guest
James
3 years 5 months ago

I am celebrating the news of this extension by wearing no pants.

Klatz
Member
Klatz
3 years 5 months ago

No pants and Felixing. Just be careful of sharp objects.

Well-Beered Englishman
Guest
Well-Beered Englishman
3 years 5 months ago

I am not celebrating anything at all.

I am, however, not wearing trousers either.

Dag Gummit
Guest
3 years 5 months ago

So long as your knickers never end up in a bunch, my English friend, we’re all good.

JIMMY
Guest
JIMMY
3 years 5 months ago

Where are all the Yankees’ fans who were positive that King Felix was going to New York?

Warriors
Guest
Warriors
3 years 5 months ago

Felix Hernadez is not old enough to play for the Yankees yet.

Spit Ball
Member
Spit Ball
3 years 5 months ago

I’m not a Yankee fan but I’m not sure this means he does not end up in Pinstripes three or four years from now if the Mariners do not get things straightened out.

Wade8813
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Wade8813
3 years 5 months ago

Yankees fans are positive that every player is going to end up on their team…

LK
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LK
3 years 5 months ago

We’ve all moved onto David Price ;)

Peter R
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Peter R
3 years 5 months ago

Future Yankee Ace David Price you mean to compliment Future Yankee Monument Park Adorning Bryce Harper.

Wil
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Wil
3 years 5 months ago

To be fair, for 25 million a year I’d be loyal to Mariners too or any other club for that matter!

Matt NW
Guest
Matt NW
3 years 5 months ago

I heard they’re going to move Oliver Perez into the rotation and Felix is going to be the closer!

James
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James
3 years 5 months ago

I just want to say two words: Thanks Felix.

Jonathan
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Jonathan
3 years 5 months ago

I imagine that the imminent re-negotiated television deal might have played into Seattle’s willingness here and frankly, why not?

Nathaniel Dawson
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Nathaniel Dawson
3 years 5 months ago

Probably, yeah. As much to insure they can get the best deal they can, more so than any realization of future moneys being able to pay for this contract.

In order to secure the best possible deal they can, they’ve got to put an attractive product on the field, and keeping Felix around certainly makes their product look more attractive.

Old School
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Old School
3 years 5 months ago

What a terrible contract for a starting pitcher. Seattle overpaid in price and years and they will come to regret this horrible deal when Felix is worn down or injured.

Slats
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Slats
3 years 5 months ago

The majority of people do not understand how important King Felix Hernandez is to the city of Seattle. If the King was traded, it would be a nail in the coffin of the Mariners. At least locking up King Felix gives the city a glimmer of hope that the M’s can turn into a World Series contender.

All hail the King! Long live the King!

kid
Member
kid
3 years 5 months ago

The team said sayonara to Arod, Griffey and Unit before, and yet the world didn’t stop turning.

Gregory
Guest
Gregory
3 years 5 months ago

The team was also good (and stayed good) when they let go of those starts. Right now they suck and everyone in Seattle is sensitive to that. Letting Felix go would have alienated what is left of their declining fanbase.

Gregory
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Gregory
3 years 5 months ago

^ stars*

sarpar
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sarpar
3 years 5 months ago

Not only were the Mariners competitive when they lost those players, but they always had stars still on the team. They signed Ichiro after losing Johnson/Junior/Arod in consecutive years; and, Edgar and Buhner were fan favorites that were on the team.

LK
Guest
LK
3 years 5 months ago

I don’t think even the Mariners knew Ichiro would turn out to be that big a star.

Aggie E
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Aggie E
3 years 5 months ago

He is like Michael Young was for Texas. That did not end well though…

chuckb
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chuckb
3 years 5 months ago

Yeah, because Michael Young was a 5-6 win player, year in and year out.

Matt NW
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Matt NW
3 years 5 months ago

Terrible? What nonsense. Did the Mariners just give Jayson Werth 10 billion dollars? This contract takes him from 27 to 33. The guy has been thoroughly reliable his entire career. Were the Mariners going to wait two years and compete against other teams with fresh tv-deals willing to give him a quarter billion?

The King is worth the risk.

Old School
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Old School
3 years 5 months ago

Jack Z should trade Felix before his contract becomes a burden.

Aggie E
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Aggie E
3 years 5 months ago

I think age is overated in most cases for pitchers. You should look at the amount of innings he has pitched. its certainly different from most SPs that dont make the MLs till their 22-24..

Michael
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Michael
3 years 5 months ago

I think it’s more of a crapshoot. Strasburg and Pineda hadn’t piled up a ton of innings and the injury bug got them.

Jadevion
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Jadevion
3 years 5 months ago

Sacred cow man. C’mon.

Baltar
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Baltar
3 years 5 months ago

People don’t want to hear the truth, at least not today, so you got flamed, and I probably will, too.
The Mariners could have done a lot in the next seven years with $175M, starting with the players they could have gotten by trading Hernandez now, at the peak of his game.
As the Eagles said, “I could be wrong, but I’m not.”

Basebull
Guest
Basebull
3 years 5 months ago

“That early-season velocity scare from 2012 is ancient history.”

Is it?

TFINY
Member
TFINY
3 years 5 months ago

Yes. It was a mechanical flaw in his delivery, that he corrected when he looked at the video (which he normally avoids). The next start, his velocity was back up and was incredibly effective. Correlation, causation, yes, but when he says he saw a flaw and that corrected it, and the results match, I tend to believe him.

Sparkles Peterson
Guest
Sparkles Peterson
3 years 5 months ago

I don’t know that you can really expect a decrease in arm injuries over time. I don’t think teams are anywhere close to being able to change pitchers’ mechanics to prevent injury while still receiving MLB-quality pitching from them, so what you’re hoping for is that teams can quantify the risk, adjust the usage patterns to compensate, and stick by the new plan at the immediate expense of the team.

I think teams that are being realistic about their mechanics analysis are using it strictly to identify pitchers they think have a better-than-average likelihood of remaining healthy. The glass cannons are still going to be coming into the league and blowing their arms out quickly, they just might not get multi-year contracts before it happens.

Chone Figgins
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Chone Figgins
3 years 5 months ago

Felix is a man of his word.

Seattle Mariner for life.

kid
Member
kid
3 years 5 months ago

Whew. Can you sleep soundly at night, now?

Matt NW
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Matt NW
3 years 5 months ago

Is he going to retire at 33?

TX Ball Scout
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TX Ball Scout
3 years 5 months ago

I noticed Keith Law (under his Old Hoss Radbourn Twitter account) made a snarky remark about it being $2M per victory.

BurleighGrimes
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BurleighGrimes
3 years 5 months ago

Is OHR really Keith Law?!

Persona non grata
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Persona non grata
3 years 5 months ago

No. It’s an old joke that those two play off of all the time.

TX Ball Scout
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TX Ball Scout
3 years 5 months ago

Yes, it’s him.

jim
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jim
3 years 5 months ago

it’s jonah keri

Old School
Guest
Old School
3 years 5 months ago

This contract is as bad as A-Rod’s.

JS7
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JS7
3 years 5 months ago

Shut up.

rustydude
Member
rustydude
3 years 5 months ago

As bad as ARod’s first free agent contract when he was about Felix’s age? Because that contract worked out pretty well for Texas and New York, as he matched production on the field for what he was getting paid.

binqasim
Member
binqasim
3 years 5 months ago

while on PEDs.

Timothy
Guest
Timothy
3 years 5 months ago

A-Rod signed his current contract when he was 32. King Felix will be 32 going into the last year of this contract.

Old School
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Old School
3 years 5 months ago

Felix is also a starting pitcher who carries a much higher risk.

Trade him while he still has value.

Dan
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Dan
3 years 5 months ago

Heck, trade everyone while they still have value. Value, value, value!

See what you can get for Felix, since Seattle fans won’t be able to enjoy this wonderful pitcher forever after all, and see how many Southern League Championships the Jackson Generals can reel off. Go Generals!

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
3 years 5 months ago

This is moronic. You complain about the size of the contract and then say that the M’s should trade him. If the contract is as bad as you think it is, then he has no trade value so the M’s would get nothing for him.

You can’t even figure your way around your pretzel logic.

Aggie E
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Aggie E
3 years 5 months ago

Alex’s contract with Texas was actually very good and much more likely to be good for the Rangers if it was played out than the contract…

Aggie E
Guest
Aggie E
3 years 5 months ago

This contract

Rustydude
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Rustydude
3 years 5 months ago

Alex was getting paid $25 million a year in 2001 dollars. Felix is getting paid $25 mill in 2013 dollars. Big difference due to time value of money. Not sure you’re accounting for that.

binqasim
Member
binqasim
3 years 5 months ago

What Rusty said.
ARod’s contract with Rangers was in no way a good contract. Rangers could not make another move because of that contract and ARod’s production ‘matched’ his contract mainly due to PEDS.

Tim
Guest
Tim
3 years 5 months ago

I like Felix he’s one of the top 5 pitchers in the game and means a ton to the Mariners franchise. But yeeeeesh, that’s a lot of money and a long commitment for a mid-market franchise to pay on a potentially risky player. This reminds me of Joe Mauer’s extension with the Twins. Everyone was thrilled initially, but the Twins paid top buck. Two years later the contract doesn’t look so exciting, and Joe is still a great player.

jdbolick
Member
Member
3 years 5 months ago

Thinking of Mauer was exactly my reaction as well. In the abstract I’m glad for the Mariners because this affects the view of the franchise and fanbase, but in a purely logical baseball sense I don’t see this as a good move. Pitchers are risky to begin with, the Mariners aren’t ready to compete any time soon, and I’m not greatly enthusiastic about a prodigy like Felix sustaining success as his physical gifts start to fade.

Dt
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Dt
3 years 5 months ago

Seattle is a bigger market than Minneapolis and there is a lot of new money coming into baseball.

Tim
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Tim
3 years 5 months ago

Mauer’s extension at least came in his final year before FA.

Wade8813
Guest
Wade8813
3 years 5 months ago

Mauer may not be a bad analogy, but I don’t think it’s entirely accurate either. Mauer plays an even rougher position, and had more of an injury history. As a good hitting catcher, any moves away from catcher to sustain his health automatically drops his value significantly.

Plus, Mauer had gone through more fluctuation in his production, making it harder to gauge his true level

Aggie E
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Aggie E
3 years 5 months ago

Mauer also plays every day. not every 6th day

NIck S
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NIck S
3 years 5 months ago

5th day. No one runs a 6 man rotation

Michael
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Michael
3 years 5 months ago

don’t the Rockies have like a 12 man rotation now?

Ruki Motomiya
Guest
Ruki Motomiya
3 years 5 months ago

The Rockies have a rotation?

MajorDanby
Guest
MajorDanby
3 years 5 months ago

The rockies are still in baseball?

tylersnotes
Member
3 years 5 months ago

Wade’s point is well made and speaks to the differences in valuing pitchers vs hitters based on adjusting value against position. Aggie, your point really doesn’t apply. Pitchers don’t become less risky because they play less often.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
3 years 5 months ago

As a good hitting catcher, any moves away from catcher to sustain his health automatically drops his value significantly.

On a year by year basis, that is very likely true due to the lower replacement level of catchers.

But, playing a different position may allow him to play many more games over the length of the contract, giving him more WAR over the same years.

The two might actually balance each other out, depending on how many more GP he might get from playing another position.

LK
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LK
3 years 5 months ago

I don’t really see why they couldn’t have waited a year to deflect some of the risk. I don’t see him turning this contract down next offseason.

Chris88
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Chris88
3 years 5 months ago

Mariners fan here. Don’t care, have Felix.

Philip Christy
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Philip Christy
3 years 5 months ago

I don’t mind that he’s on the Mariners, I don’t mind if he beats the A’s, I just wish they didn’t have to face him on Opening Day every year.

Tim
Guest
Tim
3 years 5 months ago

How much could they have expected to have to pay him in free agency to justify this extension now? Do we really think an ace is going to go for $35m or so in the winter of 2014? I’m a little floored if so.

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
3 years 5 months ago

Yes, and on the “but he did resign with the Mariners” front. If they are actually good, there is no reason to think he wouldn’t resign, and if they aren’t, perhaps trading Felix would be the smarter move.

I will say I don’t live in Seattle, have never been to Seattle, but I do know the Mariners history, particularly 3 certain players that all left town as superstars. So I can somewhat understand what some posters have said. I understand Seattle fans perhaps being happy about this, but it looked a bit shocking to me.

Tim
Guest
Tim
3 years 5 months ago

I do get it; I’m a Twins fan who’s happy to be able to keep watching Joe Mauer play here, and I don’t think it’s all about surplus value. I just don’t think the choice was between extending Felix now and losing him. If you’re going to pay him market value anyway, there was the option of extending him later and limiting injury risk in the meantime.

Ian R.
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Ian R.
3 years 5 months ago

With the surge in revenue from new TV deals all over the league, that may not be as far off as you’d think, especially given that Felix would still be only 28 that offseason.

Hurtlockertwo
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Hurtlockertwo
3 years 5 months ago

Tim Lincecum was as highly regarded as Hernanadez at one point. Ineffective can happen pretty quick.

TX Ball Scout
Guest
TX Ball Scout
3 years 5 months ago

The trainwreck was easy to see coming on that one.

Colin
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Colin
3 years 5 months ago

You should have told the Giants.

BurleighGrimes
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BurleighGrimes
3 years 5 months ago

People were predicting Lincecum’s decline for at least a few years. And his velocity has dipped for a number of years in a row.

Dag Gummit
Guest
3 years 5 months ago

Yep. And people were really calling it even before he got drafted. The injury risk associated with him was THE reason why he even fell to the Giants at #10 to begin with, if I recall correctly.

J
Guest
J
3 years 5 months ago

There’s a reason Giants never signed Timmy to a long-term extension.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
3 years 5 months ago

Yeah, you guys keep repeating the same thing every year and FINALLY the 6th time you said it, you might be right.

Now, keep saying the same thing about Prince Fielder and his durability for the next 6 years and you MAY eventually be right about that one too.

Apple Wood Smoked Pepper Jack Cheese
Guest
Apple Wood Smoked Pepper Jack Cheese
3 years 5 months ago

Lincecum’s size and delivery always defied tradition. Felix is a MAN!

Apple Wood Smoked Pepper Jack Cheese
Guest
Apple Wood Smoked Pepper Jack Cheese
3 years 5 months ago

When this contract is over he will be 33, ha!

TX Ball Scout
Guest
TX Ball Scout
3 years 5 months ago

Strong math skills are evident!

Cody
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Cody
3 years 5 months ago

I think you meant *only 33*.

Aggie E
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Aggie E
3 years 5 months ago

Again i dont understand why his age is all that meaningful. he would have pitched for 14 years in the MLs…

Apple Wood Smoked Pepper Jack Cheese
Guest
Apple Wood Smoked Pepper Jack Cheese
3 years 5 months ago

Good thing he didn’t waste all those younger years pitching in the minors. His pitches mattered at 19-22 where some guys would be wasting their time pitching in college or even worse…low A ball.

kid
Member
kid
3 years 5 months ago

It’s been implied (not only here but other places) that the Mariners shouldn’t trade/let Felix go out of fear of alienating their fan base. I’m sorry, but that sounds ridiculous. Not only is the fear of preventing something from happening an extremely poor prime basis on which to make a business decision, it’s insulting to fans, essentially treating them like children with a favorite stuffed animal that the parents won’t dare try and take away.

Star players leave teams all the time, and last I checked no team died because of it. The Ms know this better than anybody, perhaps, having waved goodbye to Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey and Randy Johnson in the primes of their HOF careers.

The Mariners need wins, and as individually great as Felix has been, the team has been equally as awful (Run differentials of -32, -119, -185, -53 and -140 in the past 5 years). At first blush it’s very tough to see how the plan of having one elite player on a squad packed with replacement-level talent will change the status quo.

Petruchio
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Petruchio
3 years 5 months ago

>Star players leave teams all the time, and last I checked no team died because of it.

The Cleveland Cavaliers?

Aggie E
Guest
Aggie E
3 years 5 months ago

So your comparing Lebron James value to Cleveland as equal to Hernandez’s value to Seattle. Please tell me thats a joke…

CheeseWhiz
Guest
CheeseWhiz
3 years 5 months ago

As a Mariner’s fan I’d say that comparison is quite fair. They are (or were) the face of the franchise and a potential hall of fame talent.

kid
Member
kid
3 years 5 months ago

I was talking about baseball. You can’t compare MLB and NBA in that way because they are completely different animals. Lebron leaving Cleveland was like Beyonce leaving DC; she was 80% of the act (even if she was only 1/3 of the personnel), and without her they floundered. But an MLB star leaving their team is more like Steve Carell leaving “The Office”; sure it hurts, but it’s certainly a recoverable situation because the contributions are so much more diluted across more people.

tsunamijesus
Guest
tsunamijesus
3 years 5 months ago

You just short-handed Destiny’s Child to DC on a sports site. Brass balls.

Kampfer
Guest
Kampfer
3 years 5 months ago

Huge fan of Felix here, but no one in MLB is comparable to LeBron James… He is the difference between finishing the season first and last.

Wade8813
Guest
Wade8813
3 years 5 months ago

Fans deserve to be insulted that way, because it’s true. Front offices are often handcuffed by what the public will feel about the moves they make. I agree that it’s terrible for teams.

Sometimes, a team can make an unpopular move, and things work out for them and the fans come back. Sometimes it doesn’t work – look at the Marlins’ consistently low attendance, even when they make it to the World Series twice. They’re still maligned, despite proof that the trades worked.

As far as losing superstars, a lot of it depends on how it goes down. I can’t speak for all Mariners fans, but my general impression is that when Griffey left, we were disappointed, but didn’t blame anyone – he just wanted to be with his family. When A-Rod left, he said that it wasn’t about the money, then turned down a huge contract offer from the Mariners and went to our rivals, the Rangers. So most fans blamed him, not the Mariners. And when Randy left, he seemingly took a dive to force a trade. Again, he takes the blame, not the front office.

PR matters. The majority of fans don’t know !@#$% about what would be best for the team.

Mike Morse
Guest
Mike Morse
3 years 5 months ago

I got this

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
3 years 5 months ago

I agree with the intent of your comment, but the Mariners are not wrong about treating their fans like children. Look at all the exuberant comments in this post! And, this being FanGraphs, these should be the more intelligent and mature fans.

Scraps
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Scraps
3 years 5 months ago

Also, they should agree with me.

Hank
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Hank
3 years 5 months ago

So they gave him a 5/135mil extension (27mil per).

I know they are reportedly shifting the money around a bit but they basically tacked on 5 years at 27mil per (over his current contract). Seems fair, he probably would have gotten more years (but probably at a slightly lower AAV)

Seems like an OK deal, but I’m not sure folks should really be looking at this as 25mil per when he was under contract for ~20mil the next 2 years.

HawkeyeCub
Guest
HawkeyeCub
3 years 5 months ago

There are almost no superstar players in the their primes hitting the free agent market in the coming couple of years–they have all been locked up. Teams are going to be reaching. If Kershaw or Verlander hit the open market after the 2014 season, I bet they will command an AAV of around to $30-35 million. Hell, Glass Hamilton got an AAV of $25 million for his mid to late thirties. It’s not necessarily smart spending, but it will happen.

Kevin
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Kevin
3 years 5 months ago

Dunno about Kershaw….

But no way in hell JV hits the open market, unless he implodes with injuries next year. no way whatsoever.

Andrew
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Andrew
3 years 5 months ago

Sextension, Sullivan. Sextention.

Brett W
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Brett W
3 years 5 months ago

We can now say with certainty that there is one MLB player who will take Seattle’s money.

Yo
Guest
Yo
3 years 5 months ago

There’s never been any indication that pitchers don’t want to take Seattle’s money; all the recent examples of players blocking trades or taking equal money elsewhere have been hitters. The new fences at Safeco may change that perception, eventually, but I doubt it. (The changes are too small; if Seattle one day stops being an undesirable destination for hitters it will be despite Safeco, not because of it.)

Klatz
Member
Klatz
3 years 5 months ago

Time to extend Larry Bernandez too.

Spit Ball
Member
Spit Ball
3 years 5 months ago

I kinda think you gotta if you are the Mariners. My first thought when reading this was that the homer fangraph base of Mariner fans were painting this picture pretty when it perhaps is not so pretty. But when I think about it given his age, build, injury history (lack of), and success through 26, I can’t argue it. Good for the homers, I hope it works out for the Mariners, the fans and Felix himself. Their are very few comps for a pitcher like Hernandez. I think of Seaver, Sabathia, Gibson, Clemens etc. given his size and early start in the bigs.Rough Math says 30 WAR is what they will be looking for and if he stays healthy he could exceed that. I think it’s on the Mariners to make sure he does not get bored by putting a winning team around him. Fat and happy sometimes can happen with the big payday. I don’t think that’s gonna be the case here but it’s worth mentioning. Like I said, I hope this works for Seattle.

Baltar
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Baltar
3 years 5 months ago

You must have climbed high into the tree to pick those cherries!

Mariners Fan
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Mariners Fan
3 years 5 months ago

The Mariners were going to spend 25M a year on Hamilton for four years (presumably) and instead spent it on Felix Hernandez for seven. As a swing in future value, that has got to be the best single thing that ever happened to the Mariners franchise.

Aggie E
Guest
Aggie E
3 years 5 months ago

Thats not a very good way to reason this considering Hamilton was never likely to sign in Seattle and also becuase if he had signed there is not reason to think that Hernandez would have not also been extended. Plus you would have had both guys for 2 years. By your logic the Mariners spent their wad and dont have anymore money to get better than the 70 win team they currently are…

BJsWorld
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BJsWorld
3 years 5 months ago

Agreed …

For the next two years the Mariners would have been much better.

that guy
Guest
that guy
3 years 5 months ago

I’m not sure there is much quarrel with the $ and the years. But what I don’t get is the timing.

While the Ms possibly save some money here by doing this deal now (versus in two years), there’s also a reasonable chance that they don’t. Signing an extension of this size two years before you have to has a cost–it comes at the expense of information. We can act like we can project Felix, but really we’re pretty limited in doing so beyond 2013-2014. Accruing more information over those next 24 months might prove invaluable in preventing a catastrophic error… especially in a situation where a single player would make roughly 1/4 of a midmarket team’s payroll. To me, this smacks of being penny wise–in that the gains here are relatively small–and potentially dollar foolish–in that there are sizeable, avoidable risks that the team is assuming.

legaryd
Guest
legaryd
3 years 5 months ago

If they had waited until he was a free-agent they would have given him that same 7 year deal, but would have had to purchase his age 34 and age 35 seasons instead of 26-33 years.

That’s the bargain in this deal. All good years, no bad years.

that guy
Guest
that guy
3 years 5 months ago

You missed my point–we shouldn’t be that confident in projecting “good years”.

Recall when the Phillies signed Ryan Howard to the extension two years before they needed to. The debate, largely due to Howard’s ineffectiveness (2.1 WAR over the last 3 years), has been reframed as an old stats/new stats discussion–and obviously that was a part of the debate back then. Side note–I’d be surprised to see even the snarkiest comments from back then suggest that his performance would be that low. But really, the debate at the time was also: is it smart to set the market before you get stuck in a bidding war? The Phillies said: in exchange for some cost certainty we’ll assume the risk that we know what we’re buying 2 years before it’s delivered. If not for the massive payroll expansion (basically double), that deal would have ruined the team. Ruined them. THAT situation is what waiting 2 years potentially avoids for the Ms.

Now, is risk associated with those contracts ever going away? No, probably not, but if we’re looking to minimize catastrophic errors–which should be priority #1 IMO for midmarket teams–letting the situation play out for at least another 12 months wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

Michael
Guest
Michael
3 years 5 months ago

How the hell did baseball owners let it get to this point? They really need to take a page out of the NFL’s book and stop this 100% guaranteed contract nonsense. Not gonna happen any thime soon, but eventually it will get so ridiculous that something will have to give.

monkey
Guest
monkey
3 years 5 months ago

There’s something you may be overlooking, (though otherwise I would agree with your assessment), and that is the fact that the Mariners are looking at re-negotiating their television deal in two years.

If you think about it, there are several reasons why this plays into, “why do this deal now with two years left on his contract?”

I think it helps grease the wheels of re-negotiation when you have a hometown hero under long term contract to sell…in other words, this probably HELPS in terms of getting more money in the TV deal.

Also, obviously, there are several other teams who will be looking at redoing their own TV deals in the next two years, and will have untold riches to spend on finding players who are young (26, will be 28) and talented like…oh I dunno…Felix Hernandez.

So yes, two more years under contract, makes the timing of this move seem strange, but I’d bet quite a bit that if we knew what the team was setting itself up for in the next two years in terms of renegotiating, we’d say, “OH!!! Sure that’s why you guys made that deal! That makes sense now!”

that guy
Guest
that guy
3 years 5 months ago

I mean, yep, that’s the argument against doing it–if they want to retain him in two years there’s a chance you could end up paying 10 MM more per year and/or have to buy the age 33-35 years…or risk losing him (which might be the best option at that point). My argument is that a lot can change in only two years, especially for something as volatile as a pitcher–even a 27 year old stud. For a midmarket team, the downside of waiting even only 12 months seems very small financially while the benefit–decreasing the chances of being on the hook for an albatross–would seem to be high.

As for TV ratings, I agree with you that there is a marketing element to consider. I’d only add that winning is fairly highly correlated with TV ratings, especially when you consider the teams that are fair comps to the Ms. So, while Felix definitely helps in pursuit of that goal, there are many other players in the system who, in concert, matter more. I don’t think it’s outrageous to say that the success (or lack) of developing Ackley, Zunino, Walker, et al will drive ratings much more in 2014+ than will Felix.

J
Guest
J
3 years 5 months ago

Re: timing. Pretty sure, Seattle wanted to wait until after Greinke set the market, but before Kershaw and Verlander signed extensions. LA could throw silly money at Kershaw.

BJsWorld
Guest
BJsWorld
3 years 5 months ago

This is a great point.

I’m not a fan of any team committing to any player two years early when they essentially pay market rate. However, the potential for the market rate to shift dramatically was present. If the Tigers threw out stupid money at $30M AAV that would have put the M’s in a real bind.

I still don’t love the move on principle but I can understand why they did it.

that guy
Guest
that guy
3 years 5 months ago

And, just for the record, the kind of “info” I’m talking about here is exactly what Buster Olney is reporting–elbow health concerns that might nix the deal.

Ask yourself, in an effort to save a couple million in 12 or 24 months, how much are you willing to lose? I just don’t see how this timing makes sense.

Ruki Motomiya
Guest
Ruki Motomiya
3 years 5 months ago

What was wrong with the Chris Carpenter deal? They only gave him a two year deal in their recent extension for 21 million: He had given WAR seasons of 3.7 and 5.0 the past two years, so even if he gave…say…3.0 and 2.5, that would be a decent deal at 5 million per win. He only needed to give 2 WAR over the next two seasons to meet the deal. Yes, he did get injured, but the signing itself is solid. If it’s the 2006 deal, then it’s also hard to say that was too big of an overpay: He got 5/65 and gave them 14.7 WAR during that time added up(0.4, 5.6, 3.7, 5.0), 14.9 if you count 2012 as well. At 5 million dollars per win, he gave them about $70 mil worth of WAR, which puts the contract at about even.

Neither of Carpenter’s contracts seem excessive, even if the extension ended up not panning out…but the risk was not excessive and the reward suggested getting their money’s worth or better.

Sivart
Guest
Sivart
3 years 5 months ago

In what is surely a stupid question, the marginal value of every win would increase for every win right? Ie. a 2 win player might have a marginal value of $5M per win, where as an 8 win player would actually have a marginal value of hypothetically $7M per win, as the further from replacement level the greater your value per win.

I feel like there is an article that was written about whether one 6 win player and a 0 win player combined are worth more than two 3 win players. Anybody help me on this one?

cable fixer
Guest
cable fixer
3 years 5 months ago

Actually, the company line is that two 3-WAR players are better than the 6+0. This comes up in just about every Tigers article here or anytime someone mentions stars-and-scrubs.

However, I agree with you. Given the limited number of players, stars and scrubs would seem to be the way to maximize winning potential, with the caveat that if your GM isn’t very good–they can’t find cheap value, a la Gregor Blanco–then it won’t work. Which to me puts the fault on the GM and talent assessors, not necessarily the methodology behind team design.

Michael
Guest
Michael
3 years 5 months ago

If the question is simply, “which would you rather have?” Then I think it is a no-brainer that you take the pair of 3 win players. This would mitigate some of the injury risk as it would take two seperate injurys to two seperate individuals to lose all 6 of that WAR.

AK7007
Guest
AK7007
3 years 5 months ago

No comparison to Cain’s deal? ’cause their results are strikingly similar – kind of surprising that things have inflated so much.

BurleighGrimes
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BurleighGrimes
3 years 5 months ago

Felix has more hardware, FWIW.

BookWorm
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BookWorm
3 years 5 months ago

By “hardware” we mean awards, right? Matt Cain does have two World Series victories to his name. Individual awards, no, but he has two trips to the World Series.

BJsWorld
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BJsWorld
3 years 5 months ago

And do we think that if Cain was pitching in Seattle he would have hardware or if Hernandez was pitching in SF that the Giants would have missed the playoffs.

Team awards mean nothing … which is only slightly less valuable that individual awards.

legaryd
Guest
legaryd
3 years 5 months ago

I think the days of people looking at contracts in a vacuum of years and dollars are over. The value of these extensions — Braun, Tulo, Longoria, now Felix, are to avoid decline years.

If I were a GM I would pay a significant premium on signing a star player in their mid to late 20’s, so then the team is done paying them by the time they hit their extreme decline phase around 33 for pitchers and 35 for hitters.

Tbird
Guest
Tbird
3 years 5 months ago

“..Hernandez was willing to re-sign with the Mariners …despite the fact that they’ve been so mediocre for so long”

-I think mediocre is an exaggeration.

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
3 years 5 months ago

Yes, the word “mediocre” has fallen over the years. Once upon a time, it actually meant medium or average. Then euphemism crept in and it came to mean below average, but not terrible. Now, it is often used for the very bottom.
But some people still use it in its original meaning.
Thus, it has become useless and should be banished.

Tom
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Tom
3 years 5 months ago

Obviously there’s not much predictive value here, but I do find it interesting that ZIPS top comp for Felix this coming year is Greg Maddux. Perhaps its a good omen for Seattle.

Baltar
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Baltar
3 years 5 months ago

There is no predictive value here.

I solemnly swear
Guest
I solemnly swear
3 years 5 months ago

The deal was just officially reported as only 5 yr, $135.5 mil. King Felix can no longer afford his third oil drilling company in Saudi Arabia with the lost $40 mil.

JDub
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JDub
3 years 5 months ago

Felix’s fastball is trending downwards. I don’t watch him on a regular basis; does anyone know whether the loss in velo occurred as a result of a minor injury or normal, age-related decline.

JAH
Guest
JAH
3 years 5 months ago

He still hits 94-95 on the gun when he feels like it, he just has learned that he’s more effective using a 2 seam and change up and doesn’t need to blow people away. Like he famously said, “I don’t try to strike out people, but sometimes they swing and miss.”

Naliamegod
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Naliamegod
3 years 5 months ago

He’s become more reliant on his two-seamer and getting groundballs than speed and striking out than when he was younger

sarpar
Guest
sarpar
3 years 5 months ago

He watched film on himself, spotted an issue with his mechanics, and his velocity increased afterwards. Also, someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but in his perfect game his fastball was reaching 94-95. It seems his top end velocity is there when he wants it, but he’s decided to go for more movement while sacrificing a little velocity.

jim
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jim
3 years 5 months ago

anybody else read neyer’s article where he compared pitchers with similar innings loads through felix’s age, and what happened as they got older?

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
3 years 5 months ago

No, do tell us what it said.

AustinRHL
Member
AustinRHL
3 years 5 months ago

“The feeling has been mutual, and now Felix will be remaining in place while making enough money to create a respectable college through which he could later put his kids.”

This brilliant line appears to have gotten lost in the shuffle. Well done, Jeff.

rjackson
Guest
rjackson
3 years 5 months ago

The key being “create”, I liked it on a more intellectual level but this one was much more humorous and brilliant in its own way: “The “hometown discount” is that Hernandez was willing to re-sign with the Mariners in the first place…”

maqman
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maqman
3 years 5 months ago

Felix has already created 38.3 WAR for the M’s worth $191.5MM based on $5MM per WAR (It’s current value is probably a little higher and will be even more so when gets paid the first dollar on his extension.) So far the team has paid him about $60MM so he has already earned about $130MM in surplus value. There is a very low probability that Felix will not more than earn every dollar he will have been paid in his career by the M’s.

Additionally, as with the Yankees and A-Rod the M’s will most likely buy insurance against any medical reason ending his ability to pitch for them.

According to Wendy Thurm the M’s current regional TV deal is worth $45MM a season. Their viewing market covers all of Washington, northern Oregon, most of Idaho and Alaska and western Montana. They along with all 29 other teams will start getting an additional $25MM in revenue from the new MLB national rights sales next year, taking that up to about $50MM a season. That total of $95MM a year next year will about cover their current payroll, including Felix’s. When they renegotiate their regional deal in 2015 (if not before) their media revenues should be close to Texas but not at the level of the NY or LA teams.

BJsWorld
Guest
BJsWorld
3 years 5 months ago

Low probability that a player won’t AVERAGE 5+ WAR a season for 7 seasons?

There aren’t a lot of guys out there who have sustained levels of greatness for 7 years. Felix is a tremendous pitcher but to project a very low probability that he declines or gets injured is a little strange.

And while insurance is nice to have, it also adds to the cost of a player.

HawkeyeCub
Guest
HawkeyeCub
3 years 5 months ago

How could their TV deal be close to Texas’s? Not exactly a lot of densely populated areas in Mariners country, whereas the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is good for 6.5 million alone. Plus, the Rangers are a good team.

Peter R
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Peter R
3 years 5 months ago

You just cant predict baseball Suzyan.

dw
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dw
3 years 5 months ago

So is the complaint that Felix is a terrible pitcher, or that Felix is going to break down, or that 7 year deals are bad ideas?

Because the first part is absolutely wrong, the second part is an unknowable, and the third part is correct (if you believe you can’t get identical value out of someone cheaper in years 2-7).

But it does seem like people are muddling the three.

HawkeyeCub
Guest
HawkeyeCub
3 years 5 months ago

I agree. At a certain point, you have to commit to a player in their prime who seems to be a good bet and hope for the best. Every organization has to do it. Even the Rays committed to Longo.

Baltar
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Baltar
3 years 5 months ago

Big, big difference between position players and pitchers when it comes to injury risk. Also, Longoria’s dollars were much less.

maqman
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maqman
3 years 5 months ago

Texas signed their media deal two years before the Dodgers took regional TV money to a whole new level. Their deal was big then, not so much now and even less when the M’s set their new deal up.

SABRphreak
Guest
SABRphreak
3 years 5 months ago

$27.1MM AAV on the 5 year extension… seems like a slight overpay to me (since the top pitchers seem to be making $25-26M/year on the market) but not by much. Let’s all keep in mind that Felix plays in Safeco Field, a pitcher’s park, and he has statistically significant home/away splits. That said, he’s still very good on the road, but not nearly as good as Verlander or Kershaw. Part of the problem is that Greinke was overpaid (he strikes me as more of a good #2 like Shields – based on one great Cy Young Award winning year – and Verlander and Kershaw are better pitchers. Each deal sets the bar higher for the next one. Verlander should end up in the same realm, due to age, with Kershaw having the real opportunity to break the flood gates open and go for a $200M deal due to his age and performance. I wonder where this will leave Price the following year, especially since I see him as the only one in the group not re-signing with his current team.

tsunamijesus
Guest
tsunamijesus
3 years 5 months ago

Significant home/road splits? Career .009 wOBA difference, .07 era difference. That’s about as insignificant as can be and falls well within the margin of error/noise. He pitches more aggressively at home and is marginally less groundball heavy, but how can you say he’s not nearly as good as Verlander or Kershaw? Do a quick FG Compare function on the two and they’re basically in a dogfight/tango around a standard of excellence, trading who’s the more excellent at that given point.

As to Kershaw, he had a transcendent, Greinke-2009-esque year in 2011 but Felix and Verlander have the pedigree of consistency and Felix has the longest track record despite being 3 years younger than Verlander and only 2 older than Kershaw. I’m not a homer about Felix, he’s just excellent and consistent and I have more faith in his ability to adjust as he ages and his stuff becomes less explosive since everything he throws has serious movement and he seems to have more command than the other guys, Greinke excluded maybe.

How do you see him having any kind of split issue?

thethirddan
Member
3 years 5 months ago

One big question I have regarding these giant contracts is …

Don’t the mariners take out an insurance policy covering King Felix in case of injury?

If this is the case, the mariners aren’t going to be as screwed if Felix goes down with an injury…

Or am I missing something here?

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
3 years 5 months ago

Sure, but insurance is very expensive–cetainly millions of dollars per year, and the coverage is never 100%. That’s why insurance companies make a profit.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
3 years 5 months ago

I know teams “have to have” some stars, but at this point (as a Cardinal fan) I’m not really big on paying any one player that much money. Why a team so far from contention would do it is beyond me. If they were able to get a “hometown discount” that is one thing, but they paid premium price for premium years, while still have team control.

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