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Felix Hernandez and Seattle Remember Fairness in Contract Negotiations


Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners contract negotiations have been well documented by the blog.  We covered the initial news that he had signed a 7-year $175 Million deal with the reaction of every Mariners fan out there.  We then were all over the fallout of Seattle saying that there was no deal and that issues around the young King’s elbow had stalled the deal.   Now, the news is that King Felix and the Mariners have agreed to an 8th year in the deal that kicks in should that golden elbow not fare so well over the first 7 years.  Basically, Felix is still guaranteed his 7 years and $175 Million, but if he needs Tommy John at any point, the Mariners get an extra year for what amounts to free. That’s fair.  That’s how negotiations should work.

In an era where contracts are as impossibly complicated as Avril Lavigne’s hairstyle history, this is a contract that has the feeling it was negotiated by people in the same room and on the same page.  With Scott Boras’ constant posturing and mystery teams dominating headlines, Felix and the Mariners have brought real life back to negotiations.  That’s good to see.

I’m tired of one side winning a deal, or of agents ripping teams off.  I’m tired of other teams refusing to make the investment in their talented players and instead letting the Yankees pay them their due.  Today’s market is pretty well set.  Everyone knows the value of guys like Felix.  He’s one of the top 3 pitchers in the Majors (I’m putting Verlander and Kershaw on par with the King) and more importantly, means everything to the Mariners.  He’s in their commercials, on their tickets and attendance rises on days that he pitches.  He’s a true $200 Million man.   He deserves to be paid like the highest paid pitcher ever and the Mariners agreed.

But, to stay on point: That new eighth year might become something of a norm as teams look to protect their investments.  Too many times have pitchers failed on their huge longterm deals.  Mike Hampton shines through as the prime example, but so too does Kevin Brown and Barry Zito and Johan Santana.  The new protective claus in Felix’s contract helps to alleviate some of the issues with giving long deals to starting pitchers.

Further, the new deal reaffirms the King’s feelings about Seattle.  That he actually wanted to stay there made sense, but Seattle has been torched before.  I don’t want to address it directly, given how strongly some on our blog team feel about the issue.  However, remember a team with a young Kevin Durrant heading for Oklahoma?  Yeah, King Felix bolting would render the sports city of Seattle on par with Cleveland.  He didn’t and Seattle isn’t.  The deal is good for Seattle.

I’m hopeful that these two sides who clearly got along even through medical concerns that could have derailed any momentum represent the new norm for negotiations rather than the divorce court that presided over re-ups in the past.

-Sean Morash


Stat of the Day: Yes, that was an Avril Lavigne reference in paragraph 2.

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