It's another early offseason for the New York Yankees, so you all know what that means.
It's time for General Manager Brian Cashman to whip out his wallet, work some magic and put some more big time names in pinstripes. For many Yanks fans out there, there's no bigger or more realistic name out there than Mariners Ace Felix Hernandez.
The Yanks struck out big-time last year, missing out on one of the best pitchers in the league in Cliff Lee. After another lackluster year, at least by their standards, the Yankees may need to make a pretty big splash this offseason
I'm sure New York will forget all about their troubles and past mistakes if Cashman can reel in King Felix.
Rumors circled around Hernandez and the Yankees for most of the season last year, even though the ball never really got rolling on an actual trade package.
But a move like this is certainly more realistic now that both teams have a few months to make it happen. If Felix does get placed on the trading block, there's still a few things that the Yanks have to observe before they jump the gun and bring in a new King of New York.
Here's a couple observations about the inevitable Yanks-Felix debacle this offseason.
In retrospect, acquiring Felix from Seattle would probably result in a pretty big blow to the Yankees' current roster and farm system.
A move like this would basically be based on Cashman's gut feeling about his younger players, and New York may call for his head if this move doesn't result in another World Series banner a year or two down the road, especially if the guys he shipped over to Seattle actually play up to their potential.
For Felix's services, the price tag will probably be pretty high no matter what position both teams will be in. Hernandez is a once-in-a-lifetime talent with the ability to turn any team into an immediate postseason threat.
The Yanks do have the players in order to make this move happen, but should they?
Let's break down a few players that New York would almost certainly have to give up for Hernandez.
Ivan Nova: This kid is good, really good. In fact, I'll go the extra mile and say he's great, and he is easily the future of New York's rotation. Of course, that's what every one thought about Chien-Ming Wang...and Phil Hughes...and Joba Chamberlain, too.
We all know how those guys are working out right now. If Cashman is willing to stick with his new pitching stud, than Felix won't be in pinstripes anytime soon.
Jesus Montero: You've heard the comparisons to guys like Miguel Cabrera and Manny Ramirez, and we finally got to get a sneak peek of what this guy is made of near the end of the year. I can't say I was disappointed, either.
He's definitely going to be an excellent addition to this team if he sticks around.
Again, like Montero, it's all about just how good Cashman and his crew think this guy can be. They didn't want to give him up for Lee last season, but Heranandez is a little bit of a different story in my opinion.
Still, Montero is New York's top prospect, and easily their catcher of the future. Losing him would be a pretty big blow.
Dellin Betances: He's a good young pitcher who could easily be a future impact player on a team like Seattle. He's struggling a bit, though, so maybe it's best to dump him before his value starts to nosedive. He still remains a top player in the Yankees' farm system though.
There's plenty more young guys the Yankees may have to hand over to Seattle. Eduardo Nunez and Austin Romine are two big names. Maybe even the speedy Brett Gardner will intrigue the Mariners.
Either way, it's a guarantee that the Yankees are going to have to let go of some promising talent for Hernandez.
At 25 years old, though, King Felix has still got years to go before he even reaches his prime. Losing a few potential studs is definitely worth it in my opinion.
With Hernandez, the Yanks will have another rotation spot that will last them for years.
Two years ago, Hernandez won his first Cy Young Award, and with a dismal 13-12 record.
How does a man with an astonishing 2.27 ERA end up with only 13 wins? The answer is actually pretty simple.
The Mariners suck at hitting.
In 2010, Seattle was dead last in practically every important hitting category in the MLB, including batting average, hits, runs and on-base percentage. Some of the stats are so bad, I don't even think they could have reached 29th with ten extra games.
Sadly, 2011 wasn't much better, and once again Hernandez wasn't given much of an opportunity to prove just how good he can be.
Over on the east coast, the Yanks were hitting home runs and winning games, giving their pitchers plenty of runs to work with in almost every single game.
Hernandez's ERA jumped to 3.27 last year, which is still good compared to any ace in the league. He also had another 200-strikeout year, continuing to prove just how good his stuff actually is.
Yet, just like 2010, Felix squeaked by with a pretty poor-looking record at 14-14, and this time he probably won't have a Cy Young Award to ease the pain.
That 17-game losing streak must have been pretty hard to swallow too.
With nonexistent run support, 14 wins isn't all that bad. But putting Hernandez on almost any other team immediately makes him a guaranteed 20-game winner every year if he stays healthy.
If I were Felix, I would get out of Seattle as quickly as possible.
It's only hurting his legacy and holding him back from really putting up mind-blowing numbers. Even if Felix doesn't care about numbers, he has to care about winning, and he's not doing too much of that in Seattle.
On the plus side (if there really is a plus side), both Felix and the rest of the Mariners are still somewhat young. Catcher Miguel Olivo showed a slight spark of power every once in while, and Seattle found a tremendous building block this year in their young second baseman Dustin Ackley.
And of course, even though his age showed a little bit this year, let's not forget about Ichiro, who arguably is still the greatest overall hitter in the entire league.
The 25 year-old Hernandez can't be too upset by what he's seeing, but don't expect Seattle to just turn things around one, two or even three years down the road.
Let's not forget that Hernandez is under contract until 2014, meaning that he basically just has to pray that Seattle can get it together as quickly as possible or he'll be dealing with a few more years of undeservingly poor win-loss records.
Felix in pinstripes would be absolutely deadly.
With New York's lineup behind him, Hernandez could easily the best pitcher in baseball for the next five years. There's no denying that the Yankees know how to score runs, just look at A.J. Burnett's 11 wins and his big fat 5.15 ERA.
If Hernandez wants to play on a contender, collect a few rings, and become a Cy Young possibility every single year, he'll find a way to come to New York.
On a team with power like Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano, it's strange to even consider what other big bat the Yankees could possibly add to their already impressive order.
But after a pretty poor playoff performance, it became clear that the Yanks may still be missing a few pieces to their championship puzzle, and they may try to find it with a few more swingers.
It was clear that pitching, for the first time in a long time, wasn't the biggest problem the Yanks had to deal with in the postseason. Sure they're always capable of putting nine runs on the board without even blinking, and you can never count them out no matter how deep of a hole they're in.
It was the tight matches that posed the biggest problem this year for New York, especially deeper into the season. Their pitiful final game of the year ended with an A-Rod strikeout, and a bunch of missed opportunities.
For a payroll like that, the way this season ended is simply unacceptable for the Yankees, and another big bat is always a pretty good remedy.
I'm not going to even talk about Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols. Those two guys are going to ask for Fort Knox, and although the Yankees are always capable of reeling one of those guys in, I just can't imagine how they'll fit another huge payroll on that roster.
There are still great choices out there though. Big bats for a pretty cheap price, at least for the Yankees.
Acquiring a guy like David Ortiz would make a huge impact to the middle of lineup, and let's not forget that he's a clutch as clutch can get.
New York's search for another bat may end up being more important to them then trading for Felix. There's no way the Yankees can strike out again this offseason and miss out on a big name or two.
Trading for Felix may just prove to be too costly in the long run, and instead of picking apart their farm system, the Yanks may take a more obvious route and spend spend spend.
But then again, if the New York does decide to add an arm, not going out to get Felix may prove to be the stupidest thing that the Yankees could do.
Let's all just assume that CC Sabathia is going to be a free agent this offseason.
I'm sure that even if the big man opts out, re-signing their ace will be the Yanks' top priority. Even with New York's huge wallet, it's going to be harder than most people may think though, for one specific reason.
After CC, the free agent market for pitchers this year starts to get very thin, very fast.
In other words, every team in need of a big time arm will probably be throwing boatloads of money in Sabathia's direction, maybe even more than the Evil Empire will be willing to pay.
It's a new era in baseball, where the most money doesn't lock down players like it used to. Just look at Cliff Lee.
And if Sabathia does decide to leave the Big Apple, then what? Looking at what the Yanks would be working with, it may be time to turn on panic mode.
Grossly overpaying every single team in order to acquire a very solid guy like C.J. Wilson is always the easiest move for the wealthiest team in baseball, but that's assuming that Wilson would even want to leave the Rangers, who are the current AL Champs and heading to their second straight World Series.
Plus, this is Sabathia we're talking about. He's an irreplaceable fan favorite to many. No matter who they add, it'll be very hard to replace CC's presence.
Adam Wainwright is another great option, but my gut tells me that he's not going anywhere. Plus he's just coming off of Tommy John surgery. A big contract could be pretty risky.
If that doesn't work, what's left out there? A bunch of good, but not great, pitchers. And certainly no worthwhile aces. There are also way too many pitchers with health problems available.
There's Roy Oswalt, who looked past his prime this year and is coming off a pretty poor season with a 9-10 record. Still, taking him away from the very powerful Phillies could really go a long way in postseason play.
Edwin Jackson? Pretty good choice, maybe even their safest option. But again, the Yankees need to make a HUGE splash. Jackson may not be worth it, plus he didn't quite have the year that many expected. Expect him to go someplace else.
Mark Buehrle? He's an ace...but pass.
Ryan Dempster? Great stuff, but the Yankees certainly don't need another Burnett. Pass.
Javier Vazquez? Just Kidding.
Chien-Ming Wang? Just Kidding...Again.
See what I mean? Not too many guaranteed arms out there this year. Even with Sabathia's return, the Yankees are going to be lacking in that department.
Even though it may gut their farm system a little bit, Felix is quickly starting to look like the best and safest option for New York.
There's one unexpected pitcher though who the Yankees should seriously consider resigning if they want to land Felix Hernandez and convince him that New York is where the King belongs.
That pitcher is Freddy Garcia...
Garcia has already done more for New York than the Yankees could have ever hoped for, and he may not be finished yet. If he can show Felix what he's missing out on in New York, maybe the Mariners and the Yankees will be willing to get the ball rolling on a potential trade.
The 35-year-old Garcia has been Hernandez's idol ever since he was a kid growing up in Venezuela. He even picked the Mariners because that's where Garcia was playing at the time, throwing away a good chunk of money from other big name teams.
Hernandez even went on to take Garcia's number after Freddy left Seattle back in 2006. Who is to say that Felix might not want to do the same thing if he comes to play in the greatest city in the world?
Having Garcia on the Yanks could actually make a huge difference in whether or not Felix comes, and thrives, in the media frenzy that is New York City. Having a legend, friend, and former teammate like Garcia there to show him the ropes would help in a lot of ways.
Plus, Garcia can still throw the ball pretty well. He proved that last year. A very solid option for a very solid price.
Of course, New York has to pull the trigger first on this deal and bring Felix to the Big Apple. But if they can, having Garcia on the roster is only going to tremendously help Hernandez's transition into New York's mega-market.
If the Yankees have learned anything throughout their spending spree the last few years, it's that there is not a single player in Major League Baseball who isn't susceptible to failure.
Plenty of traded or acquired players over the last few years simply haven't worked out for their team. Promising guys like Carl Crawford and John Lackey have been huge busts so far for the Red Sox, eating up millions of dollars in payroll that clearly do not match their stats.
Big hitter Adam Dunn was as horrible as someone could get this year, which is amazing considering he came to an AL team on which all he had to do was hit.
Trades are even more difficult to process, since somebody usually ends up winning and losing in the long run, but at times it could take years to find out who.
The vote may still be out on the Johan Santana trade to the Mets, and depending on how well he recovers after missing all of last season, it'll go a long way in deciding if he's worth his $137.5 million contract.
Nobody was more of a sure thing back in 2008 than Johan Santana, and now thanks to injuries he may never be able to live up to the hype that Queens placed on him.
For the Yanks, they need to take lessons like these and understand that grabbing the best current players may not always be the answer. Granted, they've been much better at that recently, focusing more on breeding younger guys and not jumping on every big trade that comes their way.
In the end, the Yankees may just end up playing it safe and continuing to mold their farm system players into future stars.
Sure, Felix is definitely worth it if he's made available, but there's always a chance that this whole thing could end up exploding in New York's face, leaving them with a brittle pitcher, a depleted farm system and tons of questions about the future.
All it takes is one bad throw, and they could lose Felix for a whole season.
In a perfect world, the Yankees would get another one of best arms in the league, win a few more rings and sell a boatload of jerseys with "Hernandez" on the back on them.
For the Mariners, they get an excellent array of future stars who may finally lead this team to the promised land...or at least a few seasons above .500.
But, like the title implies, NOTHING is guaranteed.
I'll be brief.
If the Yankees can get Felix at a fair price, there is no doubt in my mind that they should go for it.
Hernandez is a young and excellent arm who may have barely scratched the surface of his full potential.
Even if he completely fails, the Yankees will bounce back. They always do because they have the cash to do it.
Even though pitching may not be the biggest problem for Yanks, it's a area that always can get better, and with a slot or two open this offseason, why not fill it with the best they can get?
Of course, I'm not Cashman, and god knows I don't want to be. But I think a trade of this caliber could potentially be very fair for both teams.
Time to bring the King to New York.
Thanks for reading guys.