All the teams that had begun salivating over Felix Hernandez's upcoming free agency will have to wait a little longer than expected. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik officially locked Hernandez up to a five-year $78MM deal that delays the right-hander's entrance onto the open market by three years.
The contract buys out Hernandez's two remaining years of arbitration plus three years of free agency at an average annual salary of $15.6MM. FanGraphs says Felix's performance was worth exactly double that in 2009, and has been worth at least as much every year since 2007. Nearly $80MM isn't bad for a 23-year-old pitcher, and the Mariners are securing one of the game's best arms.
This past season was nothing short of brilliant for Hernandez, who posted a 2.49 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 238.2 IP. That performance led to his first All-Star game selection and a second-place finish in the American League Cy Young balloting.
The incentive-laden deal includes a $3.5MM signing bonus and has a limited no-trade clause. Felix makes $1MM if he wins a Cy Young, $500K if he finishes second, and $250K if he finishes in third.
Earlier in the week we heard that Felix and the Mariners were working towards a five or six-year deal. As expected, Hernandez will earn considerably more than Josh Johnson, whose new deal calls for $13.75MM paydays in each of his first two free agent years.
It has been a busy offseason for Seattle and GM Jack Zduriencik; the club has added stars like Cliff Lee, Milton Bradley, and Chone Figgins.
Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post.