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Felix Hernandez signs 7-year deal with Mariners
Hernandez’s total dollars would top CC Sabathia’s original $161 million, seven-year contract with the New York Yankees. The $25 million-a-year average would surpass Zack Greinke’s $24.5 million under his new contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers and tie him for the second-highest contract overall in baseball with Josh Hamilton and Ryan Howard behind Alex Rodriguez ($27.5 million). Hernandez’s new money would average $26.9 million over five years.
The no-trade clause was a major part of the negotiations, Pucino said.
“I think it’s important more than anything that he wanted to be here. He was expressing this over and over and over,” Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln said. “That’s pretty unusual. How many players tell you to your face, `I’d really like to stay here.’ That makes you feel pretty good.”
This is the second time Hernandez has decided to stay with Seattle rather than seeing what could come his way in free agency. He signed a five-year deal with the Mariners before the 2010 season coming off a 19-win season and just before he won the 2010 AL Cy Young Award.
He’s represented hope for the franchise since he made his debut as a 19-year-old who wore his hat crooked.
“He’s going to be here for a long time and I think it says a lot about his character and what Seattle means to him and what the Mariners mean to him but I think it also says a lot about his belief in the direction this big league club is going and the organization is going,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said.
Hernandez will turn 27 on April 8 and still be just 33 when he enters the final season of this new contract in 2019. He is 98-76 with a 3.22 ERA in eight seasons with the Mariners, a record that would be far better if he didn’t pitch for the worst offensive team in baseball each of the last three seasons.
But Hernandez said he can see the potential in what the Mariners have put together. Now Seattle’s challenge is doing what it can to ensure Hernandez gets to pitch on the biggest stage _ the postseason.
“I think this officially quiets the whispers. We were committed to keeping him here a long time,” Zduriencik said. “He’s a young, talented guy. We all recognize that. The best thing I can say: He’s ours. He’s ours and we kept him.”
NOTE: The Mariners acquired minor league outfielder Abraham Almonte from the New York Yankees for right-hander Shawn Kelley. Almonte, 23, batted .276 with four homers, 25 RBIs and 30 steals in 78 games for Double-A Trenton last season. He was an Eastern League midseason All-Star. Kelly was designated for assignment by the Mariners on Feb. 7 when the club signed catcher Kelly Shoppach.
AP freelance writer Jose Romero in Peoria, Ariz., contributed to this report.
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