Come To Think of It: Felix Hernandez Is in for a King's Ransom

Bob Warja@@bobwarjaSenior Writer ISeptember 30, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 08: Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Aneheim on September 8, 2009 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jacob de Golish/Getty Images)

It’s good to be king.

As Felix Hernandez is eventually going to discover, it’s also good to be filthy rich.

Oh, not rich to you and I. Oh no, he’s already beyond that. At $3.8 million this year, that’s already three times more than many of us will make in our lifetimes.

But rich in the sense of taking-care-of-his-family-for-generations rich. Rich as in lighting-your-cigar-with-hundred-dollar-bills rich. Rich as in…alright, we get it already.

For young Felix Hernandez, just 23 years old now, is scheduled to be eligible for free agency after the 2011 season. He will be the youngest major free agent ever at that point, and an accomplished one at that.

Hernandez is a dark horse candidate for the Cy Young award this season at 17-5 with a 2.49 ERA. Opposing hitters are batting just .228 off of him.

The Seattle Times is reporting that The King’s agent, Alan Nero, will be sitting down with Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik in the next few weeks to discuss a long-term contract extension that should total just south of $100 million.

Yet even that kind of cash wouldn’t be crazy for the M’s to lay out, considering the value he has for the organization, as well as the fact that he is eligible for arbitration again this winter. That arbitration award could easily result in a $10 million contract for 2010.

The Royals’ Zack Greinke is still the favorite to win the Cy Young award, but no matter. Seattle realizes that a 25-year-old Felix on the free market would command an even bigger windfall than locking him up now would take.

Hernandez has matured this season and is deserving of big-boy money now. Especially when you consider that Seattle isn’t his most likely destination if he is allowed to explore free agency.

Of course, there is a lot of risk in signing any pitcher to a huge, long-term deal. Injuries happen. And Felix has already had a brief scare with his elbow. Still, if you don’t sign him, you run the risk of alienating a fanbase that has seen the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Randy Johnson leave to explore greener pastures.

The kid seems to have the M’s over a barrel. Yes, it’s good to be The King, come to think of it.


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