The trade deadline has come and gone, and to the appeasement of Mariners faithful, the club decided not to part ways with their most valuable asset, former Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez.
King Felix let it be known that he wanted to stay in Seattle, and general manager Jack Zduriencik said he was going nowhere. But if the right offer had come across, you can bet Jack Z would have pulled the trigger.
The Mariners were smart to hang onto Felix Hernandez for several reasons.
First, Hernandez is one of the best pitchers in the league. He's the best pitcher in the American League other than Justin Verlander, and that in itself is reason to keep him around. In this, his seventh full big league season, Felix has notched 10 wins, currently leads the AL in innings pitched and is one strikeout behind Detroit's Max Scherzer for the league lead.
Felix is also only 26. He isn't even in the prime of his career, yet he's won a Cy Young award and made three All-Star appearances. Hernandez will continue to improve over the next handful of years. And with the bevy of young pitchers the Mariners possess in their farm system, he'll be the perfect mentor and veteran ace of the pitching staff.
Finally, Seattle held on to some identity by not trading Hernandez. Besides Hernandez and formerly Ichiro, the Seattle Mariners don't have any superstar players to draw casual fans to games and to keep the Mariners on the map as far as the baseball world is concerned. When the M's sent Ichiro to the Yankees, the team likely lost many followers as well as a portion of their identity.
If King Felix would have been sent packing, the Mariners would become the Houston Astros of the American League.
Not only is Felix Hernandez a cog in the rebuilding process due to his experience and unrivaled success, but in terms of the teams' future, he will play a pivotal role in helping the Mariners win a World Series, just as he said he hopes to accomplish.
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