5:20pm: Nero told Larry Stone of the Times that he's been "philosophically dancing" with Zduriencik so far regarding a long-term deal for Hernandez. Nero hopes fans and media will just chill out, because Felix is happy and the relationship remains strong.
MONDAY, 11:39am: Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times says Zdruriencik had an informal chat with Hernandez's agent Alan Nero today, and they'll hold more serious talks later this week. SI's Jon Heyman tweets that Felix "will likely seek" about $100MM over six years.
SUNDAY, 4:24pm: Ken Rosenthal reports that the Mariners have begun discussing a long-term deal with Cy Young runner-up Felix Hernandez. Both sides are still far apart, according to one of Rosenthal's sources.
Hernandez, still just 23, is under team control for another two seasons, and could be in line for an epic contract through free agency if he remains healthy and is not extended. Rosenthal states that the Mariners have offered somewhere in the range of a four-year, $45MM deal to their ace.
After earning $3.8MM in 2009, Rosenthal speculates that King Felix could earn $7MM or more in 2010, and over $10MM in 2011. Using C.C. Sabathia's $23MM annual salary as an estimate point for Hernandez's free agent salary, Rosenthal theorizes that Felix could earn near $60MM over those four years going year-to-year.
Hernandez could fetch a deal worth more than $100MM over six years if he reaches free agency, but as Rosenthal says, he enjoys pitching in Seattle and you have to imagine the Mariners want to make every last effort to keep him.
Players face this dilemma all the time; is it wiser to hold out and go year-to-year for more money, when one injury could cost you everything, or do you take an extension that may net you less money than the alternative if you stay healthy?
The very fact that the two sides are talking is good news for Mariners fans. After reaching an agreement with Chone Figgins just a few days ago, the possibility of a long-term deal for their ace gives more reason to be happy if you're a Seattle fan. If you were Jack Zduriencik, how many years and how many dollars would you offer to keep one of the best young arms in the game with your club?