That's "sextension" instead of "extension" because I would like to have sex with this news. This is not the only such way to play with the word "extension".
The punchline: unofficially, Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners have agreed to terms on a seven-year contract worth $175 million. That's coming from the USA Today, and the Mariners haven't issued any confirmation, but the contract also isn't said to be completely done and the Mariners don't confirm things until they're final. How long were they dicking us around over Jason Bay? There's no reason to believe this report isn't true, so we should have finalization in the coming days. Bob Nightengale says it ought to be finalized before spring training.
This is a seven-year contract, not a seven-year contract extension. Felix was already under Mariners control for another two years, so this is effectively a five-year extension, that will also pay Felix more than he was going to make in 2013 and 2014 under the terms of his previous deal. We're looking at a $25 million average annual value, where Felix was set to earn about $40 million over the next two seasons.
This is, at present, the biggest contract ever given to a pitcher. Naturally, that isn't accounting for inflation, and before long it could be topped by deals given to Justin Verlander and/or Clayton Kershaw. But if you're wondering why Felix was willing to do this, there are two reasons: (1) Felix seems to love Seattle, and (2) Felix just got the biggest contract for a pitcher ever. In terms of money, the Mariners weren't given a hometown discount. The "hometown discount" they did get was Felix's willingness to remain with this organization in the first place. There's no questioning the guy's loyalty and desire to stay the face of the franchise.
Over the past few weeks, there was talk the Mariners were mulling a four-year extension, and there was talk Felix was seeking a six-year extension. That's the same stuff we heard the first time around, when Felix and the Mariners compromised for a five-year deal. Sure enough, they compromised again, although Felix will make a little more than I might have projected. Two years from free agency, I was expecting an average annual value closer to $22 million or $23 million. This isn't significantly different -- relatively speaking -- and this is fair money for an ace pitcher. Understand that, years down the road, $25 million won't mean what $25 million means now.
The deal's effective immediately, so Felix will get paid more in 2013. That eats into whatever flexibility the Mariners had left. They still need to add a starting pitcher, but now isn't the time to discuss such things. Now is the time to discuss the reality of Felix Hernandez committing to the Seattle Mariners for the long haul (and vice versa).
We'll have plenty more on this later in the day. This can be looked at both objectively and emotionally, and neither approach is wrong. Objectively, this is a massive deal. The biggest deal, for a pitcher. Nothing's riskier than a pitcher, and, objectively, this has some chance of becoming a disaster. We know that to be true, and there are no guarantees that Felix keeps all his bits attached. But this is Felix motherfucking Hernandez we're talking about, and consider the way you feel right now. Consider the way you feel on Felix Day, compared to all the other days. Felix is good for this team and who knows what this fan base might look like if he were never here, or if he were to get traded? Felix has gotten us through some really dark times, sometimes practically by himself. He's the team icon, the team superstar, the team lifer. The one truly amazing player who's committed himself to the Pacific Northwest.
We've all questioned whether or not we're actually still Mariners fans. Our devotion has been put to the test by so many years of missing the playoffs, and then some. Felix is one of the biggest reasons we've stuck around, and he's still, today, an ace. Felix has everything, and now the Mariners have Felix. The Mariners already had Felix, but now the Mariners have Felix for much much longer.
I can't sufficiently remove myself from my emotions to evaluate whether or not this is a good contract for the organization. In my head, it's not even a question. And there's no sense in separating yourself from your emotions where Felix is involved anyway. Felix is the one guy who can make us feel the way he makes us feel. I'm not sure but we might all be hopelessly in love with him. Deeply, hopelessly, blissfully in love.
There will eventually come a time at which Felix isn't what he was. Let it never be forgotten that Felix made a commitment to this team when this team seemed to hardly deserve it. Felix is the best, and he's ours, and them other sons of bitches can't have him. Not now, not soon, and maybe not ever.
We all had a sense this news was coming. It is still just the most incredible news.