A Speed Bump in the Felix Hernandez Extension Talks: Felix’s Elbow Under Scrutiny

It was just last Thursday when the whole world felt like it was more right than it had ever been. The Sonics are on their way back, the Seahawks are amid what appears to be a huge organizational upswing, and Felix Hernandez seemed likely to be a Mariner for a really long time.

That may have changed, as in a season that saw Mike Napoli agree to a three year, $39 million contract, only to reduce that to a one year deal with $5 million guaranteed after issues with his hip popped up during his physical, Felix Hernandez’s extension may be in jeopardy, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.

This from Olney’s post:

The elbow issue is perceived by at least one of the parties in the deal as being a possible impediment to the completion of the new contract.

“It’s an issue,” said one source.

This could be nothing, but at the very least it illuminates the inherent risk signing a pitcher to a seven year contract, especially one with enormous guarantees.

Olney points out in the article that Felix has pitched more innings by the age 27 (1620.1) than all but three pitchers since 1969 (Bert Blyleven, Dwight Gooden, and Fernando Valenzuela).

This isn’t necessarily a blow to the Mariners, as signing Felix didn’t actually add value to this year’s roster, but it is a blow for a fan base that has been captivated by Felix and his fire-breathing pitching style, despite being the ace of one of the worst teams in baseball. It’s not the first time Felix has had elbow issues, though, as he missed nearly a month in 2007 after his elbow tightened up in a start against the Minnesota Twins.

We probably shouldn’t assume that this is a precursor for doom and gloom, but we could some alterations in the language in a Felix contract. Many have pointed out that Felix taking a physical is standard operating procedure for major contracts, and there has been some thought that his reluctance to take a full physical was what was holding a deal up. The more likely scenario isn’t that Felix was actively hiding something, or unwilling to submit to a full physical, but that his representation and himself have some difference in opinion on what the protective language in the contract should be.