kingfelix.jpg
  Hey, Mariners' fans, remember the 90s, when we had all those good players but couldn't/wouldn't spend to keep them? Then, under Bill Bavasi, we

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King's Ransom: Keeping Masterful Felix Looking Pricier by the Day

kingfelix.jpg
 Hey, Mariners' fans, remember the 90s, when we had all those good players but couldn't/wouldn't spend to keep them? Then, under Bill Bavasi, we spent to keep guys we couldn't get rid of. Now, under Jack Z., it seems we've hit the Goldilocks "just right," finding all kinds of value and avoiding the pitfalls of being too cheap or eager.

But a huge test looms on the horizon--signing 23-year-old Felix Hernandez. Of late, he's looked like the best pitcher in baseball. Last night was his 11th straight outing of giving up 3 or fewer earned runs. He's striking people out and avoiding walks, and he's getting enough run support to lead the league in wins. (He just became the 15th youngest player in history to get 50 career wins.) At this pace, he's got a pretty good shot at a Cy Young Award.

Which of course would only raise his value. He and the M's were unable to reach agreement on an extension last time around, meaning he'll be a free agent after 2011. But his salary will bump up each year in arbitration unless the M's bump it up through an extension. And if his success continues, signing him in 2011 will cost an eye-popping sum--almost certainly something in the 9-figure range.

What, then, should be done? Art Thiel says make sure the team is good, so he'll want to come back. We agree. Dave Cameron says offer him 4 years for $60 million right now, delaying his free agency by a couple years and keeping him happy. That sounds good too. The M's may someday have to pay Felix $25 million per to keep him--and as crazy as that sounds, who will want to see him go? Sometimes, putting off until 2013 what you could do in 2011 makes a lot of sense.

 
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